When you are training athletes- we start with the feet and work our way up the kinetic chain. This relates to assessment and evaluation, all the way through the training and speed development process.
Think of your car. If the air pressure in one tire is off vs. the other, you will have pull going on to one side. If both are flat, the engine will have to work harder to move the car. If one of the two is not balanced, more pulling, less acceleration, more engine demand.
Get the point?
Your body and your car are very similar in a lot of ways.
So where is the best place to start the process of Foundation building?
We start by making sure while standing you have feet that are both pointed in the same direction! Straight!
If one is pointed one way and the other is pointed either straight or the opposite direction, correcting that issue is a primary concern.
But, since most are concerned with building STRENGTH, it all begins with the squat. Being able to squat properly is essential when it comes to building the lower body (glutes, hamstrings, quads).
Why? The lower body is your powerhouse for overall movement- walking, running, stair climbing, and/or sprinting. As you age, if you neglect the build the lower engine, this is what leads to falls, balance loss, and an overall feeling of "weakness".
If it (lower body)is weak, there goes the house!
I always teach our athletes to focus on their glutes. Turn those "sit muscles" back on. Get them working again. Since many people spend so much time sitting on them, they are often times "turned-off"- leading to overcompensation.
This forces the quads- or muscles on the front of the legs to become the "driver" of the lower body and primary power producer- which it is not!
You know that tight back you always have? or that twisted posture when you stand-up after sitting? This can all be originating from your quads and weak glutes.
Squats are a great exercise when done in progression: body weight, body weight + plate, kettlebell, or med ball, then progressing to dumbbells, and finally barbells. You must stay in progression so your body can adapt and not get injured.
DO NOT just head to the gym and put a barbell on your back. This is the fastest way to injury- and we can not have that happen on my watch.
Progression. Check out a video of my friend Michael Boyle ABOVE for a discussion on squat mechanics and how you can create a better, stronger, and more functional squat via progression!
Dana Cavalea is the former Director of Strength and Conditioning & Performance of the New York Yankees.
Currently, he is a high performance speaker and consultant to Pro Athletes, Entrepreneurs, Business Executives, and Workforces on lifestyle strategies to reduce stress, improve work/life integration, and most importantly improve daily performance /outcomes.
With the New York Yankees Organization, he spent many of those as the Director of Strength and Conditioning & Performance Enhancement, winning a World Series in 2009.
Dana is also the founder of The Proformance Agency, a network of like-minded coaches focused on advancing the performance of CEO's, Executives, Celebrities, and high profile performers. Dana is the owner of ML Strength, a group of health, wellness and fitness centers located in the New York Tri-State area.