Quads and Hamstrings

If you’ve been at the Sweat Shop for awhile now, more likely than not you’ve heard one of your coaches mention the importance of keeping the chest up during any sort of squat. You may have also heard us use the phrase “keep your midline tight” in order to avoid any chest drop. Although that may be an appropriate cue for some, I wanted to take some time to discuss another reason why the chest could drop during the upward portion of a squat.

I’m sure you guys have seen it, or you may be a culprit. Everything feels and looks good during the downward phase of the lift, but as soon as the upward phase begins, the butt shoots up leaving the chest to fall a bit (or a lot). As I mentioned above a common cue we use is “keep the midline tight”, but as is the case, that isn’t the only reason why it could happen. So let’s dive a little deeper shall we…

During the upward phase of the lift, your quads and hamstrings work together. The quads are used to extend the knee, and the hamstrings are used to extend the hips. You see, there must be a balance of strength and coordination between the two to execute the ideal squat. When there is balance, it allows the chest angle to be kept the same and the hips to rise simultaneously. Now, how can you tell which is the culprit?

If the knees extend faster than the hips, more likely than not, the butt will rise faster (leaving you in an almost good morning position) causing the chest to drop. In this case, the quads are overpowering and it might be a good idea to incorporate some posterior work to balance yourself out. If the hamstrings are overpowering, you’ll end up stuck at the bottom of the squat with nowhere to go. If this is the case, it’s time to incorporate some accessory work to strengthen the quads.

So the next time you squat, take a look at the angle of the chest and notice if yours is dropping or not (have someone record you if necessary). From there you can decide which accessory movements to incorporate into your daily workouts. For some accessory movements to target specific muscle groups, feel free to reach out to your coaches! We’d be glad to help!

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