The Barbell Squat is one of the most popular and productive exercises available if done properly. However not everyone is ready to perform this exercise safely. Safety is about a lot more than squatting in a rack (which is of course important to provide a safety valve if a lifter gets in trouble during a barbell squat). To be able to perform a barbell back squat safely requires high levels of ankle mobility, hip mobility, core strength and stability, and shoulder mobility. This means that at least half of the people in a gym are not ready to perform this exercise safely. In addition, every person’s anatomy is different as it relates to the lengths of their shins, femur, and torso and this has direct bearing on how they can and should squat (see this previous blog post on this subject: http://workoutanytime.blogspot.com/2019/02/squats-and-anatomical-variation-among.html)
So is there a way to overcome these challenges and have pretty much everyone squat safely?
THE ANSWER IS THE BEAR HUG SQUAT!
For all the people out there with injured knees, hurt backs, this exercise can often be incredibly beneficial.. There a few reasons the Bear Hug Squat works so well.
First – the load is in front of the body – this changes everything in a beneficial way. For anyone who is not interested in competitive power lifting or just feeling they need to back squat putting the load in front of the body is a MUCH better way to go, and that can include Goblet Squats with kettlebells or dumbbells or several variations using an Ultimate Sandbag including the bear squat.
You get the whole body involved. Learning to use the upper body correctly by doing bear hug squats builds a stronger core and results in better movement automatically.
Second - Go Deeper Than Before: Many believe that the purpose of squatting is just strength. The truth is squatting is a great check of lower body mobility as well. The better we can perform a deep squat, the less likely we are to have low back issues. The Bear Hug Squat allows you to safely go so much deeper in the squat so that we not only build strength, but great flexibility as well!
However, just like anything, you have to know how to do it right.
How To Safely and Effectively Perform The Bear Hug Squat
Begin by standing over the middle of the Ultimate Sandbag (larger Ultimate Sandbags work better because of their increased dimension)
The tension we create against the Ultimate Sandbag and the dimension creates a different squat than even the kettlebell Goblet Squat!
Hinge at the hips scooping your hands underneath the Ultimate Sandbag while keeping your back straight. Your chest should be facing the ground and your shoulders retracted making sure that you do not round out your back.
With your hands scooped underneath the Ultimate Sandbag grab it and explosively drive the hips and direct the sandbag straight up the body.
You should create enough force from the hips to release the USB just prior to chest height, with your arms wrapped tightly around the middle of the USB. Hence, its name Bear Hug Squat.
· Turn your feet slightly outwards.
· Keeping tension in the upper body by driving you elbows into your ribs and initiate movement by pushing your knees outwards.
· Drive your knees out as you begin and then slowly begin to sit back on your heels.
· Go as deep as possible trying to sit back upon your heels and continually driving the knees out.
· Pause for a brief moment and drive through your feet to accelerate your body back upwards to starting position.
· Repeat for the number of reps in your program.
· To release the bag after your last rep you will return to the start position by hinging at the hips and lightly releasing the bag to the floor.
Here is an excellent video tutorial: https://youtu.be/rAzEIluFMg8 Ultimate Sand Bags are an approved piece of equipment for Workout Anytime Clubs and can be purchased directly through Power Systems.