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"Prisoner" Squat

Directions: Perform my Dynamic Warm-Up exercises at “beginning” of workout
for maximum benefit and improvement.
Pick a safe level; never be unsafe or exceed your capacity to “control” your body!

"Prisoner" Squat-Position 1 (Up)    "Prisoner" Squat-Position 2 (90 Degrees/Down)
[Also Used as Leg Matrix #1: Exercise #1]

Squats are foundational exercises for leg strength and core development; however, many people cannot do them properly because of weak cores, tight ankles and calves, and/or weak gluteus medius muscles in the deep hips.  Remember--the best "free weight" is your own body weight!  If you can't do a proper body weight squat then you have no business in the weight room adding more load on top of existing imbalances and resulting compensations.  Learn to squat well with body weight--then you'll be able to optimize results with added loads in the weight room.

  1. Stand upright with feet *squarely pointed forward, feet flat on ground, and finger tips placed lightly on head.  *(Up to 10-15° external rotation with legs and feet is considered normal, but for the most part, stay square).

  2. Lower into squat as you keep weight evenly distributed across feet.

  3. Keep heels down and don't compensate by allowing your toes to rotate out as you go down!

  4. Keep hands lightly on head and pull elbows and chest back to remind you to not collapse forward.

  5. Stand up without locking knees then repeat.

Exercise Figure Tips: Keep feet straight forward and *square!  Keep heels down while being careful not to sit back or lean forward.  Make sure to NOT pull down on your head and neck--keep arms and chest back so you don't collapse forward.  This is the squat that I use for faster sequences like the Leg Matrix but you can do them slow as well. 

  • Squats are great for lower body and core but many ruin them by compensating for imbalances.  Common problems are rotating feet and legs out excessively (compensation for tight ankles, or calves, or weak glut medius, or all!).  If you struggle to control the low positions you probably also have a weak core as this is a very "balance challenged" position without "the help" of counter balancing your body with the Olympic bar or machine.

  • NO--generally deep squats are NOT bad for you!  (Note some people have injuries or limited mobility that prevents them from safely squatting)  Thousands of people around the world deep squat every day to use the restroom, work, and carry on conversations.  Americans can't deep squat well because we "sit" too much in furniture resulting in core weakness and restricted joint mobility.  So get off your butt and squat!

*Note: This exercise is intended for "normal healthy" individuals.  If you have an injury, or abnormal pain is present,
see your physician or a certified physical therapist before continuing your exercises. 

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(Updated 1.24.08)

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