The Kettlebell Coaching Series:The Goblet Squat 3

In our last few squat pattern posts we addressed goblet squat form and coaching fixes specific to “pulling” into the squat and to address torso position. In this post we will discuss using Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT) to fix movement dysfunction.

RNT uses outside resistance to neurologically turn on an automatic response. It is often seen as a “quick fix” of faulty movement patterns without using much cueing. RNT is implemented to improve functional stability and enhance motor-control skills with an automatic response.

95p_Frequency of ExerciseTo put it simply, RNT improves flawed movements by employing external resistance which the body must resist and react against. External force should be applied so that it exaggerates the issue. This can be accomplished by pulling with a band OR by physically pushing or pulling a segment of the body.  In the picture above the coach is pulling the students right knee into a valgus collapse. The students automatic response will be to push the knee away from the midline.

In the squat, RNT can be used to fix a variety of movement flaws including: valgus knee(s), torso position, and uneven loading (placing more weight on one leg) just to name a few. Over the years we have implemented RNT to “fix” valgus knee and torso position countless time. Let’s start with Valgus Knee(s).

Fixing Valgus Knee(s) with RNT

While most of us know that a primary reason  knees go valgus when applying force has a lot to do with Glute Max activation, many trainers and coaches don’t want to spend the time on correctives to fix this issue. This is more often the case in large group setting and can simply be a time issue. Using RNT in this situation can be a great “movement hack”.

DSC_0277Here’s how…If the student’s left knee is going valgus in the squat attach a band to a fixed object to their right side. Have the student arrange the band so it rest is just above the left knee and is pulling the thigh towards the midline (to the right in this case). Make sure there’s enough tension to make the student DSC_0280fight the band, but not so much that they can’t maintain the position.

If both knees go valgus set the band up in front of the student and arranged so it simultaneously pulls both knees valgus. Use the same rule of thumb for tension.

Fixing torso position with RNT

DSC_0283As we discussed in our last post, maintaining a tall torso in the squat can present challenges for many students. For some, RNT is exactly what the doctor ordered. In this case, affix one or two bands in front of the student and relatively low to the ground (this is dependent upon band length and tension). The student should arrange the bands to that they rest on the back of the shoulders thereby pulling their torso into flexion. The natural response should be to get tall. In this case we used two band and Erik assumed a overhead deep squat position. Use the same rule of thumb as above to determine appropriate tension.

We recommend performing sets of 15 repetitions when implementing RNT and little to no additional load. Immediately follow the RNT set with a weighted set for good transfer. If the form continues to break down in the weighted set just use the RNT technique for a few sessions OR try decreasing load.

For more information on fixing movement dysfunction in a variety of patterns refer to some of our previous blog posts and consider attending one of our upcoming seminars.

Current offerings:

Breathing and Postural Control: 4-2-16 in Malvern PA

Certified Kettlbell Coach Level 1: 1-30-16 in Malvern PA

Certified Kettlebell Coach Level 2: 2-27-16 in Malvern PA

Certified Barbell Coach: 3-12-16 in Malvern PA

Metabolic Conditioning: no scheduled seminars thus far



The Kettlebell Coaching Series: The Goblet Squat -1

The art of loaded squatting can be tricky to master.  Look around most fitness and performance settings and you see plenty of loaded lunges, deadlifts, and often something that resembles a quarter squat, but you don’t often see a loaded squat performed though a respectable range of motion.  Is it because it is scary to put a barbell on your upper back or hold to hold a barbell in the front squat position? Is it the way people are introduced to squats? There’s a good chance both reasons are players in this. However, our opinion is that it has more to do with the initial approach squatting.

Here’s how we progress the squat pattern:
1. Air squat
2. Driver squat (see HERE)
3. Kettlebell goblet squat (see HERE)
4. Kettlebell front squat
5. Barbell front and/or back squat

For those of you who don’t already know, the goblet squat is a squat variation unique and powerful in it’s effectiveness.  It improves the fundamental squatting pattern by increasing range of motion in the hips and develops leg strength. The difference between the goblet squat and most other variations is that it allows participants to express a full range of motion with minimal loading of the spine.  When performed correctly, it’s very effective at putting participants in the “right” position.  This exercise can serve as THE squat a student performs in their training or simply be a bridge to the front and back squat.

Here are Goblet Squat Fundamentals: 

The remainder of this post and series will focus on coaching the goblet squat.
Setting Up

Grasp a kettlebell by the horns and hold it in front of the torso at chest height. Take a shoulder-width stance with the feet turned outward slightly.  Please not that you should NOT wear sneakers when performing the goblet squat. Stand as tall as possible, acting as if a puppeteer has a string attached to the top of your head and is pulling you up.
Be sure to firmly grasp the kettlebell and simultaneously engage your lats. A good cue to use, which accomplishes both, is “trying to break the kettlebell by twisting the horns away from the center”. If you aren’t able to figure this out, squat success may escape you.
Finally, push the kettlebell 4-6 inches off the chest.
Connecting with the ground
DSC_0028Its important your feet are as connected with the ground as possible (hence no sneakers). Keep more weight in your heels, but also spread the toes as far as possible and press them into the ground. Think about screwing your feet into the ground.  Pretend your feet are on saucers and spin them out.  This will help load tension through the hips.

Learning to pull into the Goblet Squat

This can be challenging to learn, but is critical! If you allow gravity to do the work for you in the descent of the goblet squat you will NOT maintain a tall torso. Therefore, its important you learn how to pull yourself into the squat with your hip flexors. This is a tough concept to master and even harder to teach.

Here’s a great drill to help students learn what it should feel like:

The Drive to the top
Once you have descended to a depth that allows your elbows to touch your thighs, briefly pause and drive back to the start position. Maintain a tall, rigid torso throughout the movement so that your hips and torso rise at the same speed.

Now that you have all this new information get a kettlebell and start performing goblet squats. In the meanwhile, we will work on additional posts which will address a variety of movement issues and coaching drill you can use to “fix” the squatting pattern including additional drills to help with that challenging concept of pulling into the descent.

The Goblet Squat is covered in detail in our Certified Kettlebell Instructor Level 1 (CKI-1) Seminar along with the kettlebell swing and turkish get-up. Our last CKI-1 in 2015 will be held onSaturday, 11/14/15 in Malvern, PA. Use coupon code SAVE25 for a $25 discount. Valid until 11/9/15. Our 2016 seminar schedule will be released shortly.