One Thing You Can Use to Make Your Clients Squat Better

Jeff Barnett
Strength and Conditioning

The properly executed bodyweight squat is firmly established as an awesome exercise. It builds strength, flexibility, body awareness, and balance simultaneously. But not everyone agrees on the best way to squat. Most coaches agree on the big points, like maintaining a neutral spine and squatting to a depth that engages the posterior chain. But what about the smaller points, like the position of the arms? A recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research asks just that.


squat, bodyweight squat, arms while squatting, overweight clients squattingA group of researchers undertook the task of understanding how arm position affects the squat of overweight and obese ladies. I appreciate that the researchers chose this population. Sometimes it seems the entirety of sports research is based on 22 year-old men. But coaches need to know the best way to train overweight clients as well.


The study found that holding the arms out in front of the shoulders (think Frankenstein’s monster) enabled trainees to squat deeper than when arms were held passively to the side. The arms in front technique also did not compromise torso position and spinal stability, so it was a win all around.


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