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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    21

    Default Squat teaching progression: "3 things to notice"

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    In the squat teaching progression, we want to point out 3 things to the lifter: That their hip crease is just below the top of the patella, knees are tracking with the toes and back angle is more horizontal than perhaps expected. However, staying paused at the bottom of the squat is very uncomfortable and some can't stay at depth or get to depth. Here are some work arounds --

    Get the lifter's stance set up with hands in prayer position and while they are still standing, set up the cognitive frame:
    "In a moment, you'll squat down and use the tips of your elbows to shove your knees out. There are 3 things to notice down there."

    Scenario 1: In a short amount of time, the lifter is in position.
    • Go ahead. "Three things to notice now: ..."

    Scenario 2: It took a while to get the lifter to depth, with proper back angle, and knees tracking with toes.
    • Get him/her out of the hole. "[Touch the sacrum.] Using your hips, stand up."
    • Reset for another squat. Hopefully, the lifter will be in position with less adjustment. Point out the 3 things now. Reinforce hip drive.

    Scenario 3: Lifter could not get to depth.
    • Get him/her out of the hole. "[Touch the sacrum.] Using your hips, stand up."
    • Set up for box squats, each rep reinforce hip drive.
    • Reduce height of box as possible. As needed, let lifter rest some weight on the box while pointing out 2 things.
    • "Notice that your back is more horizontal than perhaps expected and your knees are tracking with your toes."
    • "Our goal is for you to squat to depth where your hip crease is just below the top of your patella."

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    21

    Default Grip width

    When I was learning the squat teaching progression, one thing I struggled with was knowing where to have the new lifter set their grip.

    We want them to set their hands as close to their shoulders as possible without pain because it helps them squeeze their chests out and creates a nice meatshelf for the bar to sit on. But I found that most people couldn't assess their own flexibility.

    These days, I direct the lifter to take an overhand grip with their pinky on the inner ring. For woman with no shoulder complaints, I might start a fist-width closer than that. Ring-width is a pretty wide grip, but since I'm working with a paying customer who is already nervous about squatting, I don't want this person in pain the first time they're under the bar. If that initial wide grip is still too tight, I'll move the hands out and mention the benefit of moving the hands closer over time. If the lifter clearly has more flexibility, I'll move the hands in and still mention the benefit of moving them even closer over time. I will do this once, but I'm not going to fiddle and fine tune. The goal is to get the bar on their back before they forget what we just reviewed without the bar.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Check out this interview with Starting Strength Austin's newest SSC Andrea Mates:

    Andrea Mates Retired Teacher to Starting Strength Coach - YouTube

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    21

    Default Information overload is real

    At Starting Strength Gyms, before a member joins a class, they have to do a one hour, one-on-one intro learning the squat, press, and deadlift. These days in Austin, we're getting more and more people who have not heard of Starting Strength the system. They are entering a foreign land and have a lot of anxiety. We start with some small talk getting to know this new person, their concerns, motivations, goals, etc. Any anxiety we bleed off by developing rapport is about to ramp back up when we get them on the platform. If not after the squat, after the press, most new members are drowning in new information.

    In all of this, a coach can help by using as few filler words as possible. It is a mercy to the new lifter to provide short commands. As a linguist, I'm tempted to review recorded performances of new versus experienced coaches, but impressionistically, new coaches talk too much. I'm not sure if it is nervousness on the part of the new coach or a mistaken notion of politeness or something else, but the more words the more cognitive processing necessary. Stop it.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    21

    Default Coaching the lizard brain

    starting strength coach development program
    Recently, our apprentice Jeff was coaching a new lifter through his deadlift work set when the lifter gave up on rep 5. Jeff had the lifter rest and assigned another set of 5. Again this lifter gave up after 4 reps. However, in subsequent workouts, he's made all 5 reps.*

    I've observed that many of our lifters are unaccustomed to being uncomfortable and unaccustomed to continuing to apply effort when the lift is slow. The only thing they can hear in those moments are their primal, lizard brain stems telling them "DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!! Something terrible is going to happen!" and their fight, flight or freeze system kicks in. Coaching the lizard brain means adding a cognitive component that reinterprets or overrides these high stress, emotional responses.

    In this instance, our new lifter got a couple cognitive inputs. 1) Instead of 5 reps, he could actually do 8. He grossly under-estimated his ability to apply force to the bar. 2) He could choose do a 5th rep or be given an added set. (He doesn't know that we rarely do this to our lifters.) He's learned that his feelings are not aligned with his ability and that there are (or may be) consequences to giving up on a rep the coach thinks can be completed.

    *While this seems to have helped this particular lifter, I would caution that as a coaching tool the extra set needs to be used carefully.

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