Thursday, July 12, 2018

"Tuck-In" Squats

When squatting with heavy weights in the common way, your back and spinal column are attracted by the force of gravity. Consequently, they follow the line of least resistance and lean forward. When this happens the stress of the squat is taken off the thighs and is placed more on the buttocks, hips and lower back -- precisely where it should not be felt for proper physique building purposes.

By the time the zealous bodybuilder -- the "diehard squatter" -- has begun to squat with 350-375-400, he often has very little appropriate thigh development to show for his efforts, but he does have a fanny of colossal size. Well, once you've got it, it's relatively impossible to get rid of -- or diminish the size of -- with light squats, or rapid squats . . . or squats of any kind if done the way you've been doing them. 

You've got to go outside regular weight training techniques for the one sure formula that will guarantee successful reduction and reshaping of the buttocks. For, you see, if the newly enlarged buttocks were just fat, they could be reduced by proper diet and high repetition light squats. But they are muscle (don't forget . . . you've been exercising them regularly with heavy weights for some time now), hence neither diet, prayer, good intentions nor wishful thinking will peel even a millimeter from them! 

Where do you go for an answer to this problem you've caused? Why, to the magical world of dance, as interpreted specifically by the ballet. How many of you have been fortunate to see the great premier male dancers of the ballet? Even if you simply hate ballet I strongly urge you to go even a very long distance to see these men, for it will be a lesson in bodybuilding you will never forget. While it is undeniably true that some male dancers have magnificently  developed lower bodies without a corresponding perfection of upper body development, it is to their credit that the massive size, the spectacular shape, dazzling definition and separation of their thighs and calves would put the underpinnings of some champion bodybuilders to shame.

Here are men who do more, more frequent and more difficult leg work than any of you may ever do. It's their bread and butter, their livelihood, and they practice it for long hours each day. With some dancers it has become standard practice to include barbell and dumbbell work in conjunction with their dancing. 

The perfectly erect squatting form used by ballet dancers is not referred to as a squat, but is termed a pliĆ©, from the French verb "plier" -- meaning "to bend". It would be correct to say that the dancer performs "deep knee bends" -- he goes all the way down to his heels -- and that the bodybuilder "squats". 

How do dancers maintain "tucked in", trim, muscular buttocks, while the average bodybuilder does not? It is because of a trick that all dancers perform whether they are performing a full pliĆ© or squatting partially with the added weight of another dancer. It is something every physique man should practice every time he squats or makes any kind of bending movement. It will assure the beginning bodybuilder that he will never acquire a "broad A" and for those who already have one it will help them get rid of it. 

I would like to point out that you cannot use this trick unless you make sure that you are absolutely erect throughout the squat. To learn the "tuck-in" you must first practice it without weight. To do this you should stand before a large mirror, with a chair, stool or support nearly the height of your forward outstretched hand while standing.

Stand absolutely erect, head tilted slightly upward throughout the movement, heels together and toes pointed outward in a "V". Place your right or left hand upon the support. Don't grasp it . . . just lightly touch it to maintain maximum balance while staying completely erect. 

Next, begin to lower into squat position, checking your mirror to see that you do not lean forward even a trifle. The back should be kept straight as an arrow. As you into midway position, mentally focus tension into the buttock muscles, and squeeze the glutes together hard, not releasing this tension as you continue to full descent and your buttocks come to rest upon your heels (your heels will naturally rise). Of course there will be some slight relaxation of tension . . . it would be unnatural if there were not . . . as you approach absolute full squat position. By mentally tensing the buttocks as much as you can this is minimized.

Now, still with the back absolutely erect, arise to starting position, maintaining the closed-buttocks tension. And when you have arrived at the upright position, perform a few contractions by squeezing the glutes and relaxing them . . . do this four or five times before making the next repetition.

When you have the hang of this mastered so it feels natural, begin to practice it with weight.
Here is how you would do it . . .

Assume the same position as you did in the bodyweight version, only this time you will widen the stance between your heels to about six inches . . . but still turn the toes outward to a "V" angle.
With a light weight across your shoulders, perform the squat exactly as directed above, making sure that the mirror tells you your back is absolutely erect. Again, squeeze the glutes at the halfway point, keeping this tension on them as much as possible the rest of the way down and all the way up.

When you have mastered the movement with light weight, proceed to heavier loads. But there you may find it difficult to maintain proper balance and an upright position. In this case place a board under your heels for better support. If you have access to a Smith Machine use it, but you can perform these tuck-in squats without relying on a fixed bar path to keep your back erect. It just takes some practice over time.

Increase the weight very gradually, and practice the tuck-in squat without weight on your off days. If you have been using over 300 lbs. for regular squats, don't for a moment think you'll be able to dive right in with that kind of weight on this squat version. Using too much weight too soon will simply negate everything you're trying to accomplish here.

You can use this tuck-in technique on other squat variations as well . . . hack squats, front squats, half-squats, sissy squats. No matter what version of the erect back squat you do, the tuck-in technique will work wonders in reshaping and firming your glute development.



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