What’s on the other side of the posterior chain? And does quad dominance exist?

Well, this just had to come at some point, I guess. Bret Contreras, whom I respect quite a lot, has succeeded in establishing himself as the “glute guy” and buttbuilding par excellance. He has identified people that have a hard time firing their glutes properly and he has grouped them as “quad dominant”. This is a concept that has been gaining some momentum along with Contreras’ fame and I think Quad Dominance deserves some attention, as the term is being misapplied.

It just so happens that this ties in with a pet peeve of mine. Or at least something that in my opinion should have had more attention in the pop science training literature as well as in the the sports science communities AND something I’ve been contemplating writing something about at some point. And that is about the way that loads going through the lower body are transmitted either through the posterior chain or the leg pressing chain (for a lack of a better name) and what implication this has for ergonomics, exercise execution, performance transfer and so on.

Most experienced resistance training trainees are familiar the concept of the Posterior Chain. The Posterior chain is the shit that gets sore from deadlifting, right? Hamstrings and erectors. Slightly more advanced trainees may be aware that squatting like a powerlifter, with your butt faaar out back, loads the posterior chain moreso than Olympic squats, where the hips are kept as far forward as possible. But if you’re not using the posterior chain for olympic squats, then what chain are you using? And why is this at all relevant?

What I’m going to make a case for is that when talking about lower body loading and exercise, at least when dealing with multipoint exercises, we should not talk about individual joints or muscles, but about movement chains, specifically the posterior chain vs. the leg pressing chain, for a lack of a better name. The reason that we can’t use the name “anterior chain” is that this name is already in use for another structure, i.e. the  lumbar and hip flexors. Hence I normally use the “leg pressing chain”. This is just the term i myself use, but I think that it’ll make it easier to talk about training if more people had a name for this, e.g. Wikipedia says in it’s posterior chain entry that olympic squats are posterior chain exercises, which is obviously not right. This is not really a part of the scientific literature, and to a surprisingly small extent part of the pseudoscientific literature. Paul Chek, whom I’m otherwise not a big fan of, is using a similar way to describe this in his Primal Patterns system, separating the bilateral movement patterns into Bend (=posterior chain) and squat (=leg pressing chain).

Anatomical and biomechanical kinetic chains are not the same!

Before I move on, I’d like to make the point that multi-joint kinetic chains are not continuous anatomical structures. In the scientific and pseudoscience literature of anatomy and so-called “functional anatomy”, the term chains denote coherent anatomical structures through which forces are projected, i.e. if you pull in one end of the structure, you can measure a force in the other end. There is a substantial number of these chains (or trains) traversing the body, up and down, side to side, front to back and in any combination thereof. The existence of these chains and how they may be involved in motor control and posture is at the heart of schools of thought like Rolfing, Active Release and Myofascial Release. Please note that these anatomical chains may or may not be synonomous with movement chains. In the case of the posterior chain, this describes a structure that is both anatomical and biomechanical. In the case of the leg pressing chain, this structure is not anatomically continuous, but certainly mechanically.

The Posterior kinetic chain

The posterior kinetic chain or just posterior chain (PC) covers primarily the hamstrings, erectors and the traps and the articulations knee flexion, hip extension and extension of all spine segments. As you’ll note below, hip extension is also part of the lego pressing chain, but the posterior chain only drives hip extension, when the knee is extended. This is of course because most of the biceps femoris is biarticular (spanning two joints, rather than one). Thus, when the knee is flexed, the biarticular part of the biceps femoris is shifted to the left part of it’s force length curve and becomes insufficient. This is the reason that the bottom of power squats and (correctly executed) deadlifts feel so different. In this position, the knee is fairly flexed making the glutes more required, whereas when you just get 5-10 cm out of the hole, this shifts towards a cleaner PC movement.

The leg pressing kinetic chain

The leg pressing kinetic chain or just leg pressing chain (LPC) covers primarily the glutes and the quads and the articulations extend of the knee and of the hips. While both of these kinetic chains are related to hip extension, there is a very important difference between them. During posterior chain dominant movements, the hamstrings are the prime hip extenders, whereas during leg pressing chain-dominant movements, the glutes are the main hip extenders. This is because when the the knee are flexed, the biarticular (spanning two joints, in this case across the knee and the hip) part of the hamstring, which is  the hip extender during posterior chain movements, becomes insufficient. All muscles display a bell-shaped force-length relationship, meaning that they have an optimal length for force produciton and at shorter and longer lengths, their capacity to produce force diminishes greatly. This is particularly true for the biarticular muscles across the hip and shoulder joints. Thus, when the knee is flexed, the hamstring is shortened to a degree, where it doesn’t work well. Therefore our motor systems use the glutes instead.

It really would have been a lot easier if we could call this the anterior chain, but this would be rather confusing as this is normally used to described the hip and lumber flexor anatomical structures.

Load distributions in weight bearing exercise

So in any multi-joint exercise where the hips are moved against a force vector, loads will be distributed through either the posterior chain or the leg pressing chain. If you’re squatting with your butt faaar out back, the majority of the load will go through the posterior chain and very little through the leg pressing chain, whereas if you execute a perfect olympic squat, the force distribution will be quite the opposite. However, in power squats the majority of the use of the leg pressing chain is in the bottom position. This is because this is where the knees are flexed and thus the glutes will be the dominant hip extensors. You’ll see a nice OL squat by weightlifting champion Ly Xiaojun. Notice how erect he is and how he seems to balance his body between the bar and his feet.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_e6bFRKi0M

In the other end of the spectrum, we have power squats, where considerable forward lean and backward transposition can be observed. At the very extreme, we see the kind of squat that Rippetoe recommends is about as posterior chain’ish as a squat can get. The way that he describes “hip drive” is rather controversial. Almost everyone else I’ve ever talked to about this, considers “hip drive” the intended forward push of the hips forwards when coming up from the squat. Using this hip drive forward visualisation supposedly improves the use of the leg pressing chain when squatting. In Rip’s version, he describes it as powering the hips back and up, putting the body into a position where the knees are extended and thus the posterior chain being the primary hip extensor

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yha2XAc2qu8

On a similar note, In a conventional (non-sumo) deadlift with a normal hip position, the load distribution will be quite similar to a power squat. It will primarily be a posterior chain movement, but with some leg pressing chain involvement at the bottom of the movement. The lower the hips are at the beginning of the movement, the more flexed knees and therefore more leg pressing chain involvement. This can be seen in the execution of a clean deadlift, i.e. a deadlift from the same starting position as the weightlifting clean:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3w6gRzfVqw

CONSIDERATIONS FOR generic LIFTING TECHNIQUE, strength and performance transfer

What’s really interesting is that the learning curve for strength appears to be quite steep for the posterior chain, whereas it appears to be more gradual for the leg pressing chain, even though the limit strength appears to be fairly similar between them. Think about it, how easy is it to get to deadlift 200 kgs compared to OL squatting 200 kgs? In comparison, both the best raw OL squats and deadlifts are just a tad above 400 kgs. The argument I’m trying to make, is that humans are not inherently built for much bigger strength in the posterior chain, it’s just much easier to come by (for reasons unknown).

Probably due to our normal postural and physical activity environments, particularly the way we sit and work, the use of the leg pressing chain is harder to get at for most westerns than for the posterior chain. Because of this initial poorer function of the leg pressing chain AND the fact the the posterior chain pattern is initially more trainable, this easily leads to posterior chain dominance.

For this reason, my default prescription is always more leg pressing (OL squat, front squat, hack squat) work than posterior chain work, i.e. “squat two times for every pull”.

Considerations for strength sports and performance transfer

If an individual is much stronger in the posterior chain than, the leg pressing chain, they will tend to execute deadlifts with the hips as high as possible and furthermore to lift the hips as early as possible in the lift. Likewise, in squats, they will attempt to shoot their hips out back in order to keep the knees as extended as possible

While this may be okay for a powerlifter, because it is possible to perform very posterior chain dominant squats and deadlift and do very well, it is probably not of the same merit in other sports. Weightlifters, and by extension crossfitters, need to be as strong or stronger in the leg pressing chain than in the posterior chain, indicating that they should prioritise leg pressing chain strength vastly more than posterior chain strength. This also makes it particularly stupid that Crossfit.com officially associated with Rippetoe, because his exercise prescriptions will and would effectively fuck up olympic weightlifting movement patterns rapidly.

While tackling movements as seen in football, rugby or handball may require more posterior chain strength, jumping ability is usually more related to the leg pressing chain function. Therefore, different athletic activities may favor different strength distributions in the lower body.

Also, for aestethic purposes it should be noted that doing OL or front squats are practically the only real quad exercises that will really work. If you never learn to squat in a leg pressing dominant way (OL/front/hack squat), odds are that you will have a very, very hard time developing full muscular quads.

Considerations for injury prevention

Posterior chain exercises load the spine (especially the lower back) more and the knees less than leg pressing chain exercises. And there is no doubt that when exercising, loaded structures are at risk of getting injured, but there is not solid evidence favouring one over the over in terms of injury risk. However, if an individual develops massive posterior chain dominance, they will tend to get in positions where the spine is loaded to an unnecessary extent, i.e. when shooting up the hips too early in squats and deadlifts, causing a very bent over position. Even though the spine may be in good alignment, this will lead to increased compressive and shear forces in especially the lumbar spine. If alignment is lost in such a position because of fatigue or loss of stability, this puts them at increased risk of something bad happening. So while it is okay to do power squats over OL squats, I subjectively think that being too posterior chain dominant is a bad thing injury wise.

So even though I personally prescribe OL squats or front squats over power squats in order to keep a good balance between these two movement chains it should be noted that some people may just be stronger in the posterior chain or they may have trained in a posterior chain dominant way to an extent that their leg pressing chain strength will never catch up. In those cases, restoring leg pressing strength is done on a damage reduction scale ;o)

How does this relate to Quad dominance?

Well, most people that have a hard time firing the glutes, and by Bret Contreras’ definition “quad dominant”. They have a hard time firing the main hip extensor and so they must rely on something else, right? And that should be the knee, right? Instead of using that rationale and discussing this in terms of mechanical competence across individual joints, I suggest discussing it in terms of mechanical competence across biomechanical chains.

So what characterizes these gluteal amnesia individuals? I’ve taken the liberty of citing Stuart McGill’s description:

…From measuring groups of men with chronic back troubles during squatting types of tasks, it is clear that they try to accomplish this basic motion and motor pattern of hip extension emphasising the back extensors and the hamstrings, they appear to have forgotten how to use the gluteal complex….

While the exact definition can be argued, this pretty much sums it up

When instructed to do squat type movements, they will usually lift their heels significantly and keep their torso fully erect or if instructed to keep the heels in the ground, shoot their hips far out back, essentially changing the movement into a posterior chain pattern

When instructed to do deadlift type tasks, gluteal amnesiacs (?) will  typically execute movements with fairly straight legs and rounded backs, again, just like McGill describes, causing the pattern to rely maximally on the hamstrings.

So, what I’m getting at is this: Most of the people that have shitty glute activation doesn’t compensate significantly at the level of the knee extensors, but at the level of the other hip extensor, the hamstrings and effectively display massive posterior chain dominance, rather than quad dominance.

Think about it, most people with gluteal amnesia have decent posterior chain strength for their trainings status. They can normally hoist decent weight in deadlift (although with horrible technique). On the contrary, if they should be quad dominant, they should perform well in something like a hack squat. Well, they don’t – at all. And they don’t normally do well in leg extensions either, further underscoring my point.

16 Comments

  1. Daniel Jørgensen on 2013-12-02 at 07:27

    Good read!

    It made me wonder again – why are the adductors always left out in discussion on knee extensions vs. hip extensions patterns? For me it is always the adductors that is getting tired and most soreness

    • incognitodk on 2013-12-02 at 10:39

      Good point. I'll write it in.

      Anders

  2. Ryan on 2014-06-17 at 04:04

    Okay, a number of comments.

    First Rippetoe's squat is designed to be knee neutral. He exclusively designed his treatise on the low bar squat in Starting Strength to describe a squat that lets you a) use the most weight b) allows significant hamstring tension at the point of reversal, thereby making the point of reversal "knee neutral" and c) develops the most muscle mass through the fullest range of motion. It is telling that most all of the heaviest squats have been done with a low bar position–it lets you lift more weight, for obvious reasons. Furthermore, I fail to see how the quads are not developed in a low bar squat. given that, yes, there is only one muscle group that extends the knee, how does low bar neglect the quads? If you don't like your quad development, maybe you should put more weight on the bar, or do more volume? Furthermore, how do you suppose an individual will lack quadricep develop from solely low bar squatting when they are able to use more weight in the movement? This increased mechanical tension would surely compensate for any lack of quadricep-specificity. The whole argument is stupid anyway. It's like arguing close grip bench versus generic power bench for tricep develop. One allows more tricep focus, whilst the other lets you lift more weight. Who has bigger horseshoes and lifts more weight after 6 months of training? Who cares?

    Another reason why hamstring development is encouraged in Rip's model is due to, again, the knees. ACL tears are prevented by strong hamstrings, as well as good mechanics. I'm sure you understand that the hamstrings are agonists to the ACL, whereas the quads are antagonistic. For an athlete who plays a sport with a high risk of acute knee injury, strong hamstrings are not bad.

    I agree there is more low back load in the low bar squat, but this is attenuated if you use proper form. And how do you extend the hips without using your ass? This one puzzles me.

    As for the hip drive cue, it's a cue. That video doesn't actually represent what a Rip-squat looks like. In fact I hate that fucking video, it's been beaten to death. Stop taking a technique session designed to instill a certain movement pattern as a technique cue. It's not that.

    Shooting the hips is a technique error, not an imbalance error. The person needs to learn how to move properly. Especially if they are small and weak, which most folks who start a novice program tend to be. Can we stop throwing around this imbalance bullshit? I don't like Bret or anyone for it, it doesn't mean anything. Someone who squats sub double bodyweight is imbalanced everywhere; they have no specific "weak points". They just need to a) learn how to move and b) apply progressive overload.

    I agree the quads are vitally important for squatting, but I disagree with your diagnosis. If you substituted "low bar squat" with "westside geared box squat", then yes, I would agree that's a dumb movement for an athlete, but so is doing hack squats and leg extensions.

    I do really like your post on hypertrophy, but I just can't fathom this one. Strong quads are important, sure. But moving properly is oodles more important.

    • incognitodk on 2014-06-17 at 11:52

      Hey Ryan. Thanks for reading and taking your time to give this comment (no pun intended). I'll try to answer to best of my ability. First of all a disclaimer. I'm not opposing training the posterior chain and I'm not opposed to squatting with your butt far out. I'm opposed to claiming that deliberately putting you butt as far out as possible always and claiming it is best for everything, because it most likely is not. Also, I'm not claiming that all PL-style squatters have gluteal amnesia or something like that. Just that it is actually possible to be a serious PL-style squatter with serious motoric deficits around the hips. Just ask Wendler.

      as far as rip's squat teaching, deeming it knee neutral is at best a subjective point of view. The farther back the hips and knees are positioned, the more posterior chain dominant the movement. I hope we can agree on that. From that premise I think it's hard to call i knee neutral as he advocates keeping the hips pretty far back. But as far as your specific points go
      a) yes, using a posterior chain dominant movement pattern will most certainly allow greater weight to be moved in a shorter time, as the learning curve for posterior chain strength is much faster, than it is for anterior chain/quad dominant strength
      b) How can you both claim that by using a knee neutral reversal position is good and still claim that you get as good knee extensor exercise as with anterior chain/quad-dominant squat?
      c) you may be right about that. The thingi is that the muscle mass being developed by posterior chain-dominant squats is pretty much the same as being developed by deadlift and not the quads. My point was that for a fuller development of kinetic chain functionality and asthetic looks if that is a concern, most people are better of using anterior-dominant squats and regular deadlift, that doing posterior chain dominant squat and deadlift as the former actually trains the entire lower body, whereas the latter doesn't really train the quads that much, but bombs the hell out of the posterior chain.
      As for the quad development or not, there is both solid evidence that range of motion across the joint is much more important than both absolute and relative loads (look at my range of motion post) and anecdotal evidence from observing olympic lifters compared to power lifters strongly support this notion. I've trained a lot of fitness athletes (most were natties) and for what's it worth, I've found that it's really hard to grow quads without doing OL, front or safety bar squats, particularly for natties.
      preventing ACL tears doesn't just require strong hamstrings, they also require strong quads. furthermore, thats actually a straw man as I have never argued against training the posterior chain – i have argued against not training the anterior chain.
      Hip extension with poor gluteal activity, the socalled gluteal amnesia, is well described by McGill. You should read his books for further info on this.

      If you're a powerlifter and your sport allows you to compete in way that only requires posterior chain strength and bench pressing strength, then all is good. But there are a number of reasons or instances in which spending time doing anterior chain dominant squatting would be beneficial:

      -Jumping patterns as seen in basketball, handball and volleyball are more dependent on anterior chain strength than posterior chain strength
      -Having strong quads AND strong hamstrings most likely protect better against ACL injuries than just having strong hamstrings
      -Doing squats with large moments and range of motion protect against and rehabilitate jumper's knee better than posterior chain dominant squats
      -As the learning curve for posterior chain strength is faster than for the anterior chain, some people can get caught in posterior chain dominant movement patterns, as they quite simply lack the strength in the quads. This is normally the case for lifters that shoot up their hips early in deadlifts.

      I have trained with some of Europes best IPF powerlifters, most having raw squats in the 2-3 times bodyweight and have geared squats in the 3-4 times bodyweight range. I've seen guys with unequipped PL-style squats of 230-250 that could do less than half of the PL squat in front squat. To me, that's a sign of imbalance.

      I sense that you feel rather strongly about this, so I don't think that I can convince you of my point of view, but I hope that at least it cleared somehting up. Also you're very welcome to comment on the facebook page of the blog.

      Have a nice day

      Anders

      • Ryan on 2014-06-17 at 23:29

        Hi,

        I don't really feel as strongly about this as I came across. My original post was quite rude and I apologise for that.

        I just don't understand gluteal amnesia. Are we discussing the inability to extend the hips with the glutes? How does this happen without palsy or an avulsion? I know Bret et al sell books discussing this, but I just think it's a load of bullshit.

        He's got a nice butt:


        I agree that quad accessories for a raw powerlifter is key. Dan Green and G Nuckols have both written about this. So has Paul Carter. The qauds are the key muscle for raw squat performance, focusing on this muscle group is absolutely essential for a powerlifter. However, I still disagree that low bar doesn't develop the quads. Another thing–the low bar rack is more stable. you can get bent over as hell and not have the bar move. If you get bent over on a high bar squat, the bar will roll up the neck. Watch that Pete Rubish video where he good mornings the high bar. If the bar rolls up the neck, it must be dumped, similar to what happens on a front squat w/ an inclined torso. This degree of instability is not evident in a low bar position. High bar is a horrible position for 1RMs.

        Again, I think in a lifter any technique error is strictly a technique error. Weight needs to be taken off the bar until the hips are not shooting, the back isn't rounding, the knees are not caving, the elbows are in proper alignment on the bench press, etc etc. Accessory work is way overblown for any novice-intermediate powerlifter. It's mostly a distraction for correcting a problem like shooting the hips. Accessory work is great for hypertrophy and GPP, however.

        Again, the powerlifters will suck at the front squat because they are not accustomed to the movement, and they don't train it. The law of specificity rules here. I am confident if they trained their front squat as much as their competition squat (which would be silly, because they are powerlifters and it is optimal for them to focus on their competition lift), then there would be no such discrepancy. Any person given a new movement pattern will perform very poorly initially.

        I would also add that it's important not to misinterpret the Rippetoe squat. Starting strength is absolutely the best book on barbell training. No other book goes into the same depth and breadth. I am not particularly enamoured with Rippetoe or the ss method, but it is important to give credit where it is due.

        • incognitodk on 2014-06-19 at 08:53

          Apology accepted. I like the challenging comments here especially.
          As far as gluteal amnesia, this is something that has been document quite well from EMG studies. From a macro motor perspective i believe these individuals are easily spotted. These are the guys and girls that have a very hard time maintaining full spinal extension when the hips are flexed. Often, they even round their backs before the hips need flexing in deadlifts and squats.
          My point is not that low bar squatting does not develop quads. It's more about hip position. If you stick your butt out faaar back, like layne norton does, the torque and range of motion across the knee joint is reduced making it a less efficient quad exercise, not a non-quad exercise whatsoever. Incidentally, Layne Norton hase puny quads for a 600+ squatter. If you look at a guy like Karl Yngvar Kriststen, he squats lowbar, but much more erect (and incidentally have huge quads, even for a SHW). I know those examples may be cherry picked, but i believe that if you really go into tracking squat styles and lower body development you'll se a pattern.
          Hig bar squatting requires another balance between quad and posterior chain strength and if you are posterior chain dominant, this will easily lead to trying to move the weight into the posterior chain by goodmorning'ing it up. This is not the purpose of forward hip position squatting and is shitty technique and can IMHO not be used as an argument of high bar squatting being inherently unstable. OL squatting is just harder to learn and will take longer to reach those big numbers.
          and i agree that front squat is not important to powerlifters, but to athletes that need to run, sprint, jump, sidecut etc. being strong in the posterior chain is not enough and being too posterior dominant may even adversely affect jumping patterns. Posterior chain driven jumping patterns tend to be very hip driven, which makes for slower jump execution, which is a no go in most sports. But mind you, I don't mean to say that this whole anterior chain shit is neccesarily relevant to powerlifters, but i can guarantee that is relevant to almost everyone else in the iron game.
          And i agree that SS is nice go-to book. Rip should just not do videos ;o)
          Anders

          • Ryan on 2014-06-19 at 23:22

            On the spinal extension front: are you referring to the iconic buttwink? Because that can be due to femur:torso ratio, and hip socket depth. It can also be due to the lifter starting the exercise in an overextended position and flexing to neutral. It could also just be poor motor control. I would suspect all of those things before a buttwink. Keep note that a wider stance will simulate a shorter femur and attenuate this problem. It can also be the glutes appearing to change shape as they eccentrically lengthen under tension (watch that Kirk video–see his glutes tuck under? That's a non-problem, imo, because I think it's just due to an "appearance" of spinal column movement, rather than actual, problematic, gross spinal flexion).

            Yeah, as I said: Paul Carter did nothing but box squats, and found his raw squat sucked. Same with Dan Green. Dan does front squats. Most of the powerlifters I know warm up for their ME back squats with front squats. Sheiko has lunges. etc.

            I agree that quad strength is important for athletes. Weightlifters in particular require very strong quads to maintain an upright torso in the C+J and snatch. Glenn Pendlay has written that when donny shankle had a front squat in I think the 500+ range, he was outperforming other lifters with stronger back squats. I might have gotten this wrong, I am too lazy to google it.

            High bar/ front squatting is advantageous for another reason, in that it is very easy on the trunk. No biceps/elbows/shoulder problems.

            Rippetoe is clearly ridiculous in his dogma–ie he claims weightlifters should not highbar squat, and if they're not deadlifting conventional they are weak–but whatever. Same with everyone else in this stupid industry.



          • incognitodk on 2014-06-20 at 12:53

            i individuals that have some degree of this so-called gluteal amnesia, the buttwink may be part of the motor dusfunction, usually the last and hardest part to "untrain". I believe than in most cases it is not because of actual flexibility or anatomical hindrances, but out of faulty motor programming. Most people that fail to drive the squat correctly with the glutes in a barbell squat, can do this just fine in a split squat. Also, I've experience people claim that hamstring flexibility was causing the buttwink for them, but when I put them on a mat and stretched them, the neccessary passive range of motion was available in the relevant positions. Faulty motor programming is the culprit in 99% of these cases, IMHO.

            Anders



          • Ryan on 2014-06-21 at 10:11

            I don't really agree to be perfectly honest. I think the buttwink is an elusive topic. Most weightlifters will always receive and squat w/ one. I would love to know really how problematic it is, but I am afraid I will never know. It's a degrees thing–is it gross lumbar flexion? Appearance of flexion? Sacral/pelvic nutation? Glutes changing shape? Simply the appearance of spinal movement, despite bracing and rigidity? It's a case-by-case thing. Most strength coaches I have spoken to agree that if it is only minor it is not problematic. And these are the best coaches I know



          • incognitodk on 2014-06-23 at 10:19

            I totally agree about that, but I'd still insist that real anatomic hindrances to hip flexibility concerning squat movement patterns are quite rare. I've trained hundreds of athletes and none of those that claimed anatomic explanations for ass dipping, could not be reproduced during testing.

            Anders



  3. Ryan on 2014-06-18 at 01:31

    Oh I would also add that a squat that bounces off a hamstring tension anchored tibia as in the low bar is more conducive to preventing patella tendonitis than a squat that promotes bouncing off the calves via an acute knee angle with an angled tibia and relaxed hamstrings. The latters point of reverse is accomplished by the patella ligament and quadriceps tendons. The former actually uses the hamstrings.

    • incognitodk on 2014-06-19 at 08:55

      Yes, but it also loads the lower back. If you look at the injury epidemiology, OL lifters does have slightly more knee in juries, but sligthly fewer lower back injuries. So it kind of evens out. Catastrophic patella tendon ruptures do occur, but they are very rare.

      Anders

      • Ryan on 2014-06-19 at 09:42

        I think the following things hurt the back:

        Relaxing it into flexion (see when most people try and squat "ATG" without the right intermembral index index/genetics/strength/mobility). This will contribute to the whole Stu Mcgill flexion cycles disc herniation thing.

        Hyperextension (seen in raw squatters who try and emulate geared squatters by breaking the hips and then the knees. For reference I think all raw squatters should break both hips and knees simultaneously. Also seen in skinny people, or very flexible people.)

        and good-morning-ing the weight up. This I think is the biggest concern. If your legs fail you and you hinge your lumbar to get you up, that's hell on the low back.

        I don't like discussing potential weight training injuries because the list is literally endless. You can get so fucked up from lifting, that it's a wonder I still do it. It's kind of like taking a drug: if you read all the horrible stories from folks online and the sides they suffered from and listen to them, you'll potentially never get the opportunity to reap the therapeutic benefits that taking the drug might confer.

        • incognitodk on 2014-06-19 at 13:56

          While I generally agree with the points you are making, the epidemiology is revealing. Even expert lifters have deviations at the micro or macro motor levels that'll lead to injuries. I even think McGill have recorded that "live" with some X-ray technique in a couple of instances. And when these things happen, the torque on the joint will become a determining factor in development in injuries. And the sports epidemiology agrees that what you use is also predominantly what gets injured. So if you squat with the hips back you'll have high lumbar torque and if you squat with your knees out front you'll have big knee torques and as a consequence that's what'll get fucked. Executed perfectly, neither position is inherently unsafe.

          Anders

          • Ryan on 2014-06-19 at 22:38

            Right. I agree.

            Out of interest, do you program things like reverse sled drags, etc as a way to get additional leg volume in? Trap bar deadlifts are also a nice addition. I find you can do those for much greater volume than conventional, primarily due to the reduced lower back fatigue.



          • incognitodk on 2014-06-20 at 12:47

            in generelt, i don't program that stuff for clients as very few gyms in denmark have the space and equipment for that and not for myself. Not for any particular reason, I just find regular squats, split squats and slant board squat to be more than enough for my battered not-so-young body. Still, I seem to better at making others stronger in squat than myself ;o)



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