Let’s Dive In

Squat University’s founder, Dr. Aaron Horschig, joins me today for a brilliant conversation. He uses the squat as a vehicle to empower people and helps others decrease their aches & pains, improve their athletic performance, and find their TRUE STRENGTH.

You may know him as the author of The Squat Bible or in some way have interacted with his lecture hall.

Aaron is a physical therapist, strength & conditioning coach, speaker, and writer. He has worked with a diverse variety of athletes ranging from Olympic Weightlifters, powerlifters, CrossFitters, international level soccer players, MLB and NFL athletes.

Today we deep dive into the Squat to talk about the intricacies of this movement and how you can express your full potential.

Show Notes:

  • (4:30) – Using the Squat as a vehicle to empowering people

  • (9:30) – Intricacies of movement

  • (11:52) – Squat looks good to the common eye — but still experiencing aches & pains

  • (13:58) – Why everyone should be able to do a pistol squat

  • (23:30) – Spending 10 minutes every day in the squat to improve your rock bottom

  • (30:39) – Pinching in the hip during your squat

  • (35:30) – Stability and Coordination

  • (38:00) – Expressing mobility beyond your workout

  • (39:30) – Coordination = Timing

  • (43:00) – How to neurologically recruit more musculature

  • (45:15) – Why you need hip internal rotation to squat

  • (52:00) – Barefoot squatting

  • (54:10) – Knee sleeves

  • (57:55) – Morning routine

  • (1:01:00) – The Squat Bible

  • (1:05:00) – Breathing and Belts

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Podcast Transcript

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:00:00):

Hi, this is Dr. Aaron Horschig, and you’re listening to The Airborne Mind Show.

Misbah (00:00:31):

Hey guys, Misbah Haque here. Thank you so much for joining me today and welcome back to the show. Before we get started, if you’ve been enjoying these episodes, please, please do me a favour and head over to iTunes to leave a five-star review. It’s one of the greatest compliments you can give. If you can let me know what you think, whether it’s good or bad, what you’ve been enjoying, where we can improve. Don’t hesitate to let me know. And obviously, it helps me out with rankings, helps me out with getting more interesting people on the show, and helps spread the message. So, do me a favour head over to iTunes and let me know what you think. The other thing I would love to point you to is the home base, theairbornemind.com.  Not only can you check out the full show notes there as well.

Misbah (00:01:11):

Anything we talk about on the show, typically I will link up there and you can also see the free training resources there as well. So, there’s a hip mobility warm-up, shoulder stability warm-up, there’s a snatch guide. There is a checklist if you’re trying to improve your strict strength for things like pull-ups, handstands, push-ups, all sorts of cool stuff. See what is most relevant to you right now. And if you sign up for any one of them, you will get two emails from me per week. They’re fairly short. Number one is when the podcast episode drops, and number two is the Athlete Digest. That is a roundup of things I found interesting every Friday. Once again, head over to the home base, theairbornemind.com, and share it with a friend who might enjoy it.

Misbah (00:01:53):

Now today’s episode is brought to you by audible.com. There’s this book that Aaron recommended after the show. It’s called Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and you guys know how much we value the ‘why’ behind everything that we do on this show and in this community. So, if that sounds intriguing to you go check that out. I haven’t read it myself yet, but I will be in the next day or two. I’ll start diving into it. But it sounds like it will be a good one. And if you want to check out any of the previous books that guests have recommended on the show, you can head over to theairbornemind.com/readinglist. And there’s a link there at the top that you can hit to get a 30-day free trial or a free audiobook from audible.com, as well.

Misbah (00:02:34):

So today my guest is Dr Aaron Horschig from Squat University. And this episode’s exciting for me because about 15 or 16 months ago when I first started Airborne Mind and it was just a blog, I reached out to Aaron to do a Q-and-A, written style interview. And I’m taking a look at that right now. It’s cool to see that the quality of questions I’ve been able to ask has definitely improved over time. I really like Aaron because if you’ve ever visited either his site or his Instagram page, he’s able to be very technical, but very simple at the same time. He’s obviously a very smart dude. He’s a physical therapist, strength and conditioning coach, speaker, and writer. And actually just came out with The Squat Bible, which was released the day of this conversation.

Misbah (00:03:22):

And he now works at Boost Physical Therapy and Sports Performance in Kansas City, Missouri. His past patients have included professional football players from the NFL, CFL minor league baseball players, European professional basketball players, Olympic weightlifters, numerous NCAA division one and two athletes, international level youth soccer players, CrossFit athletes, and numerous athletes in a variety of sports. So, his background includes being involved in the sport of Olympic weightlifting as an athlete and a coach for over the past decade. This was just such a fun conversation for me. And just a heads up, I think a power line must have gone out or something, but the wifi went down, we just disconnected in the middle of our conversation and that’s never actually happened before. 

I didn’t really know what to do, but thankfully he was a good sport about it and I was able to call him back about an hour later and continue the conversation.

Misbah (00:04:16):

So, in the middle here I’ll plug in a little note when that happens, so you don’t feel lost. With that being said, please enjoy the show. And more importantly, I hope you do something with it. Aaron, welcome to the show, man. Hey, I’m honored to be on. Yeah, I’m a huge fan. I follow your Instagram page and there’s a host of different cues and concepts and light bulb moments that have happened for me, just keeping up with you. And we actually did a short Q-and-A that I’m going to link up in the show notes later. We did this about a year ago. I think you were just starting out Squat University and whatnot. So, it’s been very cool to see all the people that you’ve been able to help since then.

Using the Squat as a vehicle to empowering people

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:05:01):

Yeah, it’s been a really crazy path. I opened up Squat University in October 2015 and it’s really taken off. It’s been amazing to come in contact and help so many people because really my goal is to really empower every single person I come in contact with. And it’s really been crazy to see just how everything has exploded since then.

Misbah (00:05:22):

Yeah. So, it sounds like the squat is kind of a vehicle for you to be able to do a lot of that. I’m curious, there has to be some type of obsession with the squat, right? If you want to talk about it so much, right? What is it about the squat versus maybe the deadlift or the push press or why did you choose a squat versus any other movement?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:05:42):

Definitely. That’s a great question that a lot of people have. Usually, the story that I come up with is as a physical therapist, while I’m going through my evaluation process with new patients when they come in, I was seeing this common trend over and over again. And it didn’t matter if it was a 16-year-old soccer player, an elite NFL running back, or grandma that’s got knee pain. I was seeing these people that were having pain at some part of their body. During the evaluation process, there’s a time where I’m actually looking at their movement and I say, “all right, I want to see walk, show me a regular bodyweight squat.” There was this trend that people were unable to perform the simplest movement of a bodyweight squat. I think it really shows that as a society, we’ve re-evaluated and almost changed our basic priorities.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:06:38):

It’s not actually something that you focus on as a bodyweight movement often throughout the day. We only think about moving big weight. If you Google the squat, you see a ton of huge weight move. You think of Ray Williams squatting 1,005 pounds raw. It’s freaking crazy, but how often can you think of any of your parents sitting in a deep squat. So as a child growing up, you only see the squat when it is moving big weights. Whenever we can rearrange those priorities back to where we’re seeing the squat as a movement first, it changes everything, more so than any other fundamental movement or exercise. Whenever you can perform a good bodyweight squat, ass to grass, all the way down, it really changes things because I think the squat sets the foundation for everything else that we do or many other things that we do.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:07:39):

If you think about it from an exercise perspective, when you go to the gym, if you were doing cleans or snatches, all of those have their basis in a squat. Obviously, the squat, as an exercise, has its foundation as the movement first, but there are so many other things. When you’re jumping and landing on a box, you’re doing a box jump. If you’re running and cutting, when you cut that, that small drop, that’s a single-leg squat that you’re using to be able to set the movement foundation to be able to do that extremely dynamic movement. The big thing that helped me have this light bulb moment was that we have rearranged our athletic priorities to such an extent that we are doing two things: first, we’re inviting injury into the picture.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:07:39):

I was seeing all these people that were sustaining these injuries because they’re not grasping the concept of moving well first and then moving big weight.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:08:34):

And then I think that we’re also limiting the potential for what’s possible, athletic performance-wise. And what I mean by that is your movement foundation allows you to increase your potential for what’s possible. So, if you move really well, you have the potential because your technique is so good, you’re moving mechanically. You can move more weight than if you weren’t moving very well. Obviously, that’s a very general statement, but what I find is that when you start to improve to move, you think about it technique first, can go much further and you’re going to do so much safer from that perspective. So, that was sort of the light bulb moment. And I just sort of took it and ran with it. Since then, it’s been a mission to try to get out to as many people as possible.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:08:34):

“Hey, let’s fix our movement. Let’s look at technique first. We can move big weight, but do it in the right perspective.”

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Intricacies of Movement

Misbah (00:09:32):

I absolutely agree with you because I think what happened on a macro level is that when we started to think of the standard for the squat as hips below parallel, chest up, don’t let the knees come in. And we just kind of rush people through this movement, right? When somebody comes into a CrossFit gym and we’re like, “all right, cool, you can go down up.” We lose the intricacies of the movement. So, now all you’re thinking about is, “okay, I have to be able to go down and up and I’m good.” But maybe the little things that you’re able to dig into, like being able to keep big toe, pinky toe, and heel on the floor or being able to actually feel what it’s like to externally rotate, all of that is kind of lost. And I feel like it’s coming back now. 

Misbah (00:09:32):

Do you think that we’re starting to value the quality of movement a little more?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:10:25):

I definitely think so. I’m seeing more and more people share tidbits of information. And the awesome thing that I love seeing is the community of people that are on Squat University messages and whatnot. If I put a post up on Instagram, there’ll be people that’ll be commenting, “Hey, I’m having this problem too.” There’ll be someone else that’ll comment back to them, “Hey, work on this, use this queue.” And that’s something that I say. I mean, a lot of stuff that I’m saying it’s not the first time it’s been said. I’m not giving amazing groundbreaking stuff. I’m just sort of formatting it in the most simple way possible. And giving it to you all at one time, under the application of the squat. So, you’re seeing people that are understanding the intricacies, but we’re explaining it in the simplest way possible.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:11:13):

And eventually, it becomes second nature to people when they walk out a squat, their foot is in a nice stable position. And then all of a sudden from there on out, maybe they’re not having that back pain because they’re understanding, “Hey, I’ve got to engage my hips first. I need to make sure my knees aren’t jamming forward and collapsing inwards.” And all of a sudden, we’re starting to see more and more people, which is the goal, squat more weight, safer, awesome technique. And it just spreads from there like wildfire.

Misbah (00:11:44):

Absolutely. So, I want to give you an example of an athlete I’m thinking about right now at my gym who, to the common eye, they look like they’re good, right? Like their squat is decent. They can go down and up and can go ass to grass. They are lifting decent weight but still have knee pain. Let’s say they’re 30 years old. And they point to, “okay, well, I’ve beaten up my body when I was younger as an athlete. And this is just kind of how it is. I have to grind through some of these aches and pains.” It’s not so bad that they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I got to go get looked at by a practitioner and get this taken care of,” but they’ve almost accepted it as a part of daily life. 

Misbah (00:11:44):

So, I’m curious, what are your thoughts on dealing with somebody like that? Who is in a sense kind of experience and is good in terms of being able to check the boxes, but that pain and aches and pains are still kind of present?

Squat looks good to the common eye — but still experiencing aches & pains

Squat University Tip #1

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:12:44):

Definitely. I’ll say this, pain is not something that is normal for your body. Now, for some people, let’s say they had a career in the NFL where they’ve played 15 years and their bodies just beat to hell. Obviously, there are going to be exceptions to the rule where we can’t backtrack necessarily all the way and take away years and years of damage. But to the extent where people just sort of give up and think pain is a normal part of life, I don’t accept that. What I always say to that is that there’s got to be more to that. Let’s look into this more in the simplest way of understanding whether or not this is something that can be modified. Or yes, your body is just beaten up and unfortunately, this is part of your life, which in many cases is not the full answer.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:13:33):

For example, someone who shows an amazing squat, usually in a double leg stance, can squat good weight, but they’re still having pain, especially in the knees. What do you do? The first I do is get them out of their weightlifting shoes if they are wearing them. And I’m going to screen their body with a single-leg squat. Now, a lot of people look at that and they go, “well, I’m not a CrossFitter, I don’t need to do pistol squats.” Every single person, regardless of who you are, should have the ability to perform a good single-leg squat. Now, this is going to be a pistol squat. I’ve worked with an NFL lineman before. I don’t expect him to be able to go ass to grass. I do expect him to be able to do an eight-inch box touchdown excursion.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:14:15):

So, that means standing on an eight-inch box and doing a good single-leg squat, tap his heel to the ground, and all the way back up. And what I find is that a lot of people who have knee pain who are unable to do a single-leg squat, there’s your cue. It all comes down to movement. So, sometimes it just takes a little bit of changing it up, as far as your screening process, to illuminate where the problem is. Maybe it’s not in the double leg squat. Maybe they show pretty good movement quality in the double leg squat, but the squat is also a single-leg movement, as well. So sometimes exposing it with the single-leg allows us to then take that and then fix that problem, whether it be coordination, strength, balance, to really find what’s possible as far as changing up that person’s symptoms.

Why everyone should be able to do a pistol squat

Misbah (00:15:04):

So, when you’re taking a look at the single-leg squat, what are some areas in terms of screening that are out to you? What are you looking for?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:15:12):

Sure. The first thing I’m looking for is what joint moves first. What I’ve noticed is a lot of people are very good at starting with the hips in a double leg squat, and what I mean by that is a small hip hinge. But as soon as it goes to a single-leg squat, they forget how to do that. So as soon as they start their descent, their need jams for it instantly. And what that’s going to do is show me two things. First, it puts a lot of sheer force on the knee early on, which can aggravate some different things. And second, it’s showing me that their coordination and balance is a little off because, just like in the double leg squat, we want every descent to start with the hips. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:15:12):

Now, to the extent of what that is, is all determined by your anatomy, your mobility, and the type of squat you’re doing.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:15:55):

So, if it’s a low bar back squat, which is pretty common to powerlifters, you’re going to be taking a little bit bigger hip hinge. And what that’s going to do is it’s going to engage the glutes, the posterior chain, the strongest muscles of your body, but it’s also going to keep the bar balanced over the middle of your foot, which is what every squat requires in order to produce efficient force and power. With a front squat, if we take that huge hip hinge like we did with the low bar back squat, that chest is going to fall so far forward, the bar is going to roll right off your chest. So obviously we can’t take a huge hip hinge. 

Dr Aaron Horschig (00:15:55):

But we still want to start with the hips. So the hips are going to engage extremely slightly back, and then you’re going to sit that butt straight down.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:16:36):

In doing so, you still engage the glutes, you limit that premature forward movement of the knee, which is going to limit that amount of sheer force on the knee early on. And it’s going to keep your body in balance. The same thing applies to a bodyweight single-leg squat, except obviously with the bodyweight single-leg squat, because we don’t have a bar on our back, the only determinants for how big that hip hinge is going to be is on your mobility and on your anatomy. For some people, it’s going to require a big hip hinge. For some, it’s going to require a little smaller one, and you’ll be able to sit upright. If you Google ‘pistol squat’ and then click on images, you’ll see a couple of different images. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:16:36):

And there’s always one, there’s of a man, his shirts off, he’s wearing like black pants, and he is sitting in an awesome pistol squat, like all the way down.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:17:18):

And his chest is fairly upright. His body allows him to do that. He’s got amazing ankle mobility and his proportions, as far as his femur length and his torso length, are allowing him to sit very upright in that squat. However, many people cannot do that. A) They don’t have amazing ankle mobility, and B) their body morphology, their femur length, torso length, tibia length doesn’t allow for that. So, it’s during a single-leg squat to have a very inclined chest and that’s normal to do so. So the first thing I’m looking for is the quality of their movement and engaging those hips and staying balanced. The second thing I’m looking for is what’s happening to that knee. As far as the side-to-side movement, ideally, that needs to stay in direct alignment with the foot the entire time.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:18:10):

This is pretty commonplace, or it should be for most people when they’re screening the squat. However, what you’ll find is that a lot of times people that have knee pain, but don’t show any problems in a double leg squat, when it comes to this single-leg squat, they can’t show that great quality again. That knee likes to wave around and a lot of times it likes to dip right in. So, I’m looking for where that knee is going, and then we’re seeing where’s the problem at. Is it a foot stability issue? Is it a mobility issue? That’s where we break the body down from there to expose the weak links that we then need to work on? So, it’s always a movement-first perspective in screening to discover where your problem is at. Then from there, once we find our problem, 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:18:10):

which a lot of times for the person that you’re describing is not going to be found until we break down their single-leg squat, then we find out where the weak links are. Is it mobility? Is it coordination or stability? And then how do we fix those?

Misbah (00:19:05):

Now, is it okay, in a single-leg squat, when you look at the hips and the glutes that rounded, butt wink type of motion because somebody might be able to maintain that during the double leg squat, but when you take them to the pistol, now we’ve got a significant rounding of the back but maybe you’re still braced? Is that okay? What should we be looking at there?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:19:31):

Definitely. That’s a great question. It is completely fine to do that. Now, here’s the thing with that. So, that would be considered that ‘butt wink’ that a lot of people will instantly say is horrible. That it’s the worst thing in the world and is going to cause you a herniated disc. Well, let’s talk about this. First off, what is the butt wink? It’s the excessive pelvic movement where the pelvis is being pulled under the body. And what that does is, when it’s excessive, it causes the lumbar spine and the low back to also bend as well. There’s a direct relationship between the pelvis and the low back. Well, if the low back is extremely flexed, over time with many repetitions and with enough load down through the back, it can theoretically create a bulging disc. There are two things that we have to look for.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:20:20):

Now, with a barbell squat, we obviously have a lot of load through the spine. If we have excessive butt wink with a barbell squat, you’re going to reach that theoretical end range breaking point sooner, because you’ve got a lot of load through the low back and a lot of excessive lumbar flexion. However, with a bodyweight squat, there’s no load going through the low back, very minimal, obviously just gravity pulling down. But you still have a little bit of that excessive flexion, so we have that as well. Now, me personally, when I go into a bodyweight squat, if I’m sitting down there and just relaxing, there’s a little bit of butt wink. I’m sitting down there relaxing, it’s not a big deal. If you look up Google, like I say, ‘third world squat’, 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:20:20):

you’re going to see people from all over the world that are just sitting in the bottom of a deep squat.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:21:05):

And guess what? Some of them have butt wink and I’m sure none of them are having back pain right now. So, it’s not the worst thing in the world to show that with a bodyweight squat. That’s going to be normal for some people’s anatomy. Now with a pistol squat, that’s sometimes going to be exemplified or amplified, even more because of the demands on the body. Because you have to have that much more ankle mobility in order to go that deep, sometimes it’s going to create a little bit more bend in that low back, a little bit more flex. That butt wink and rounding of the low back can become a little bit more pronounced in the bottom of a single-leg pistol squat.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:21:44):

Now, again, for bodyweight squats, it’s not that big of a deal, in my opinion. It’s been way more blown out of proportion than most people realize. However, I don’t like making vast generalizations or recommendations where I say, “Hey, it’s never going to be a problem.” For example, in the sport of CrossFit, it is common to hear people go, “I had a WOD where I had 300 pistol squats,” or something crazy like that. Well, obviously we’re thinking of the load, frequency, and timetable until your disc has that theoretical end range where an injury is possible. If you’re going ass to grass on a pistol squat and seeing a little bit of butt wink, if you’re doing a couple of reps a day, it’s not going to be a problem.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:22:34):

If you’re doing 300 reps in a row and you’ve got that butt wink, while the load is not very high, the frequency of movement is very high. So theoretically, you’re edging towards that end range possibility for that disc staying healthy. That’s why, again, I don’t like making completely generalized statements saying it’s never going to be a problem, because there will be those people that do take things to the end range. But most people, if you’re sitting in the bottom of a deep pistol squat, a few reps every day, working on your single-leg dynamic and your control, and you have a little bit of butt wink and rounding in the low back, I don’t believe it’s as big of a deal as many people have made it out to be. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:22:34):

Especially if you’re also complementing that with good core stability throughout the rest of your day and doing other things that are making sure that your body is staying healthy.

Spending 10 minutes every day in the squat to improve your rock bottom

Squat University Tip #2

Misbah (00:23:29):

Okay. Now, I’m a huge fan of what you just said there, spending time in the bottom of the squat. So, being able to tinker with your limitations. What joint am I actually limited at? Adding foam rolling and bands and balls in there is great, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to come back to the actual full squat. So, I’m thinking about a person right now who, let’s say that they do overhead squats, right? They don’t feel comfortable and go super, super slow on the way down because that confidence is not there. And haven’t built up enough time in the bottom of that squat. When I think of rock bottom, should the person who gets hips around parallel, but then after that things kind of start to break down, is their rock bottom that position there? 

Misbah (00:23:29):

Or is their rock bottom all the way down? And should we be in a bodyweight squat, just kind of hanging out and mobilizing in that deep position?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:24:25):

Definitely. I’ll say this, everyone’s depth is going to be a little bit different based on a number of different things. First is the mobility profile. So, everyone’s got a different level of mobility. For example, let’s say you have a 32-year-old named Joe. Joe works at the office all day long, where he sits down. Maybe he was an athlete earlier in life, but now he just has a pretty sedentary lifestyle. His mobility is going to be very different than 16-year-old Johnny, who is just floppy as hell. They’re going to be very different people. So, when we look at mobility, someone’s rock bottom may be a little bit different right now. The only way to figure out how to make that improvement is to go through testing and see if it’s actually something soft tissue wise that we can mobilize and whatnot.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:25:13):

That being said, I think every single person should spend at least 10 minutes every single day in the bottom of a deep squat. Accumulated throughout the day, not all at one time. This is something that I was first turned on to by Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD. His very first MobilityWOD video was the 10-minute squat test. Can you accumulate 10 minutes at the bottom of a deep squat during the day? And for a lot of people, this is sort of mind-blowing. They don’t really understand, “well, I don’t sit in the bottom of the deep squat. Maybe I do a little bit when I’m warming up for my workout, but that’s about it. I don’t do it throughout the day.” And then you wonder why it’s so difficult for you to catch a snatch and just feel comfortable down there. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:25:13):

What I find is that the squat is not something you just do during your workout.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:25:57):

Mobility is not something you just do 10 minutes prior to your workout, 15 minutes after, a little stretching and then you’re done. If you want to really find what is truly your potential with your movement quality, with yourself athletically, you need to take mobility and specifically the fundamental movement of the squat as a bodyweight movement seriously. And do it often throughout your day. So, mobility is one big factor. There are different tests that you can do that I share as far as finding out if it’s a joint restriction or a soft tissue restriction. But then you also have to consider someone’s anatomy. For example, there are some people that have very deep hip sockets versus people who have very shallow hip sockets. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:25:57):

And those people are going to have sort of a different level of hip flection, which is the movement of going down into the squat, your knees coming closer to your chest.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:26:50):

They’re going to have different levels of end range. A lot of people like to point towards these the Chinese lifters weightlifters that are sitting ass to grass in the bottom of a perfect squat and their torsos are extremely upright. Well, their bodies, as a whole, are built for that. These guys are 5’6” max and their torso to femur length is very specific for excelling in the sport. You take the same movement, and you ask a kid who’s 6’7” and has a very different ethnic background as far as how their body is naturally built, he’s not going to be able to nearly look like that. His body is built to run and jump.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:27:45):

You have to take into account the background of how their bodies and bone structures have developed. Last thing you definitely need to take into account is injury history. For someone who has had three fractured ankles or has a history of injuries, their bottom is going to be maybe a little bit different based on that as well. So, that’s where as a coach, understanding all the different things that come into play is huge in understanding whether or not this is this person’s bottom for good, or if there’s a lot of room that we can play around with.

Misbah (00:28:24):

Yeah. And the one thing you said about the Chinese lifters, they are scouted from a very, very young age, right? Like from the age of seven, eight years old, they’re looking at how big their thumb is. Is it going to be able to go around the bar and hook grip? And I heard this with Yao Ming. He never really loved basketball until the age of 18. It was because of his height and because of what he was meant to do, he was put into a specific sports school for basketball because that’s where he was going to excel. And they do the same thing with weightlifting as well. So, there’s so much more planning than kind of what we see right off the bat.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:29:02):

One of the things that bug me the most is when people will comment on something and they’ll go, “well, these Chinese lifters do this.” I try to tell as many people as possible but a lot of times I just let it go. These lifters have been chosen from the youngest age. They are the most elite. There are millions of people in the Chinese Weightlifting Federation, and these are the top ones. So, their bodies are able to handle a little bit of a poor movement and get away with it and excel and lift 200 kilos the head because of how they find their most elite athletes. They’ve got a billion of them. If you think about basketball players in America, there are millions of kids who play basketball. Think about the same way over in China. There are millions of kids who come up in weightlifting. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:29:02):

So, it’s easy to understand why they have excelled so much as a country in finding the most elite athletes in that aspect. So,

Pinching in the hip during your squat

Squat University Tip #3

Misbah (00:30:09):

Hey, I’m back. This is exactly where we cut off and Wi-Fi was gone. Power was out for about an hour. So, let me link upright as soon as we reconnected and were able to move on with the conversation. Here we go. 

All right, we are back. So I lost power there. My Wi-Fi went out and the call completely dropped, but we are back. And I think where we left off was finding your rock bottom. We just kind of concluded that. So, I want to give you a third athlete or third type of situation: somebody who has been endlessly mobilizing. They’ve been on the foam roller. And been doing a ton of soft tissue work. Maybe they’ve gotten looked at by chiropractors and different practitioners. Maybe to the common eye, their squat looks pretty decent, 

Misbah (00:30:09):

but they’re still experiencing some type of pinching in the hip. Maybe it’s in the front of the hip. Maybe it’s the inner thigh or the groin area. How do you attack something like that? Where do you even begin?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:31:08):

Definitely. So, there are a couple of different things that could be happening there. One of the first that comes to mind is called FAI, or femoracetabular impingement. And basically, what this is, simply put, is if you look at the hip joint, it’s sort of like a ball and a socket. And whenever the ball is moving in the socket in some people, depending on the size of their hip socket, that ball is going to hit the front of the hip socket earlier than others. Now, if they have a very deep hip socket, this is going to happen early on in the motion, compared to someone who has a very shallow hip socket. So, anatomy is huge in this. Now, whenever you go into a really deep squat, if you have that really deep hip socket like we talked about, 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:31:08):

that femur head is going to hit the front of the acetabulum, so the ball’s going to hit the end of the socket.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:31:55):

And two things are going to happen. A) you’re going to get a ton of that posterior tilt. So, the butt wink is going to occur early, and it’s a way to basically limit a pinching sensation from that hitting in the front of the socket. Or number two will happen, and you’ll actually get that pinching sensation. The hips won’t turn under as much, and the front of the femur is going to hit the front of the hip socket. So, that’s that impingement like pain. Now there’s a couple of things that can cause this, it’s not just the hip socket safe, but it’s also a cam or a pincer impingement. Basically, the way the bones are formed in the body, if we don’t want to get too into the anatomy of it, we can’t necessarily change how your bones are formed, 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:31:55):

but what we can do is try to give a little bit more mobility in the way the body moves, as far as the joint itself, give a little bit more movement inside the joint itself.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:32:57):

So, what we can do is a banded joint mobilization to try to improve the hip socket mobility. Basically, give us a little bit more range of motion in there. I first want to do an evaluation to see if this is truly FAI. If it is, then we can do some banded joint mobilizations. I’ll usually like a lateral banded joint mobilization or a posterior. What that’s going to do is just help us give a little bit more movement inside the joint itself, which then we test, we do the branded joint mobilization, we retest, and are able to see, did we create any change in allowing us to maybe get a little bit further in the movement without that pinching sensation? For some people, that can be a game-changer. Within a couple of weeks of doing that, they’re not going to have that pinching sensation anymore.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:33:42):

For some people, we cannot change their hip anatomy to such a great extent. We’re going to have to change their squat stance. Now, for some people, based on how their mobility is and how their anatomy is set up. For example, if they have anteversion or retroversion, which basically means that their femur and their hip joint congruency is a little bit different from normal, the way you would look in a textbook. They’re going to have to change their squat stance to accommodate for that in order to feel comfortable and not run into pain. What this means is they may have a little bit wider stance. They may have a little bit more of a narrow stance. And may have to turn their toes out slightly, more than what most people would think is normal, and that’s going to be normal for their body.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:34:27):

So, as coaches, we always have these general recommendations: set your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes relatively straight forward, squat all the way down. Well, for some people that doesn’t work. So again, that’s why I don’t really like these generalized statements, “everyone always has to be able to do this,” because there’s always going to be those people that are outliers, and what do they do? So, having a good person who understands screening is going to help you find the most efficient squat for your body. Because in the end, we can do a lot for mobility, but sometimes we’re going to always be beating our head against the wall if we never understand, “Hey, maybe it’s my anatomy that’s also at play and this is why I’m going have to change my squat.” So, for example, I cannot personally do a very wide stance squat at all. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:34:27):

If my feet are outside my shoulder width, I’m not going past parallel, or it’s going to feel like my hips are breaking off. I have a very narrow squat for that reason. And that’s right for my anatomy. It wouldn’t matter how much mobility work I do. My body anatomy will not allow me to squat with a really wide stance squat.

Stability and Coordination

Squat University Tip #4

Intricacies of Movement

Misbah (00:35:31):

Gotcha. Okay. How about now, when we’re thinking about doing all these joint mobilizations, using bands and balls, what is the mindset behind that in terms of a longer-lasting type of change? Because a lot of times, we’ll feel great, right as soon as we do that the lateral distraction that you just talked about, for example, or the posterior, and you’re like, “wow, I feel like a million bucks.” And then you go into your workout, you feel good, but then maybe right after the workout or the next day, it feels right back to where it is. So, is there a certain timeframe that we should be kind of hammering away at this stuff? What is the underlying theory behind this?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:36:15):

For sure. So, there are a couple of things that come into play. The first thing to understand is that it is not only about mobility and that’s a huge thing because mobility is an easy keyword to throw out. And it’s huge nowadays, especially with the rise of MobilityWOD, not that he’s done anything wrong, because I love what Kelly Starrett puts out, but it’s not just mobility. You also have to take into consideration stability and coordination. And if you’re only doing mobility work, that’s not the only reason why you developed this pinching sensation. There’s also probably a coordination issue. For example, you do that mobility work, you open up the joint, then feel good. That’s awesome. You’re on the right path, but then you also have to understand, why did that joint become stiff in the first place? 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:36:15):

And if you never do any coordination work or strengthening the glutes, doing different corrective exercises to get your body moving again, having that stability and mobility standpoint coming together, you’re never going to fully grasp why the problem occurred.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:37:17):

So, that’s sort of the thing, a lot of times we treat the symptoms with mobility work. Let’s say you’re having some knee pain and you foam roll your quad. All of a sudden the knee pain goes away. Well, the reason you developed that knee pain is in part because of the quad stiffness, but why was the quad stiffness there in the first place? A lot of times it’s because you were moving too much from your knees or your hips weren’t working in coordination so it was causing the knees to be overloaded in a certain position. You always have to take a step back and understand why something developed if you want to have lasting results. So, that’s one thing, adding in coordination and stability work. The second thing is making sure that you’re expressing that new mobility more than just at your workout.

Expressing mobility beyond your workout

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:38:00):

A lot of people think, for my mobility work, I do 15 minutes prior to my workout, maybe I do a little bit afterward, and then that’s it. They don’t do anything else throughout the rest of their day. So, they’re not expressing that full functional mobility that they just gained. That’s why I’m such a big fan of sitting in a deep squat throughout the day or getting in a deep lunge because if you’re not expressing that full functional mobility throughout your day, what your body was designed to do, what you just improved that ability to get into with them mobility work, it’s always going to start getting back to that original problem of being stiff and not moving correctly. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:38:00):

What you’ll notice is that if you start doing your mobility work, you feel good during your workout and then every hour, every two hours, you set a reminder on your phone to sit in a deep squat for 30 seconds.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:38:44):

All of a sudden, those smaller issues during your warmups are not going to be as problematic for you. Maybe you don’t need to do 30 minutes of mobility work, eventually, you only need to do 15, because your bodies already acclimated to moving a little bit better than it was once before when all you were doing was sitting for eight hours a day and then trying to go work out. The big thing I always say is, 15 minutes of mobility work and an hour workout, doesn’t offset being completely sedentary and ignoring your body’s capabilities for the other 12 hours that you’re awake during the day.

Misbah (00:39:25):

I really like how you used the word coordination there. This reminds me of a time where there was this lifter who to the common eye, it looks like he was performing a perfect squat. It was catching the snatch perfectly in the bottom. But he said he was experiencing that pinching sensation as well. And all I really tweaked at that point was teaching him how to screw his feet into the floor, grabbing the floor with your feet. And essentially what we’re trying to do is externally rotate the femur. He never was explained that or taught that. He never understood what it feels like to actually get into that position. As soon as he started doing that, it went away. He didn’t experience it anymore. And to this day, he hasn’t really mentioned anything about it. 

Misbah (00:39:25):

So, when you think of coordination, are there specific exercises that you’re thinking of, or is it kind of along the lines of what I’m saying with taking it back to the squad and those little technical cues of understanding what it feels like?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:40:27):

Definitely. So, coordination is simply timing. What muscles, what things are turning on, and at what time. For example, I see athletes all the time that are extremely strong, in the common sense. When you, when you go through physical therapy school, you’re taught how to manually muscle test and give a grade on how strong the muscle is. And it’s on a five-point scale. So, if a muscle is five out of five, it means that it is extremely strong, it’s working as it should. A lot of times when people see someone whose knees collapse in during the squat, they instantly say it’s in part due to your glute medius strength, the small muscle on the side of your hip. If it’s not working very, very strong, the knee rolls in. Well, when you’re working with elite athletes, they’re not weak.

Dr Aaron Horschig (00:41:17):

I will take all these elite athletes who have knee collapse and I’ll test their glute medius in the prescribed way that you’re taught in physical therapy school. And it’s five out of five. A lot of people would look at them and go, “well, what do I do? What’s wrong?” Well, it’s not that it’s weak, that it’s not turning on at the right time. For example, when you’re talking about screwing into the ground, people will use that cue or squeeze your glutes and then lift, what they’re doing is they’re turning on those muscles, they are priming the engine, and then they’re moving. And what that does is coordinates the body. It turns on certain muscles at the right time. And what that allows your body to do is move well and to move in the most mechanically efficient way.

Coordination = Timing

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:42:01):

If I have someone, for example, doing the simplest movements, single-leg squat, and first the thing I like doing is having them move poorly and then having the move correctly. Then they’re able to understand what poor feels like so they can understand what good feels like afterward. So, I’ll have them get in a single-leg stance and I’ll say, “move your knee forward first while you squat and let it cave in,” and they’ll instantly feel all that tension go straight to the knee. And then I’ll say, “get that same single-leg stance again. Now, before you even push your knee down as you go into your squat, push your hip back and bring your chest forward – basically engage your glutes by hinging at the hip. And what do you feel? Instantly, after a couple of reps, they go, “my butt muscles are on fire.” 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:42:01):

What you’re doing is you’re experiencing what happens when you coordinate your body properly and you turn those glute muscles on at the right time. It sets everything up to move in the most mechanically efficient way possible.

Misbah (00:43:03):

So, when we are doing a squat, maybe without even thinking about any of these things, we just think, okay, I’m just going to squat. It’s not that our glutes are actually off, they’re still engaged to an extent, right? But when we think about some of the things that we just chatted about, externally rotating and squeezing your butt, now is it just a mental thing that there’s more awareness there now? Or are we physically recruiting and able to produce force a little bit more because we’re thinking of it like that?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:43:34):

You’re physically recruiting those muscles better. Neurologically those muscles are getting turned on a little bit more. And there’s another simple way to do this for anyone that’s at home listening or is going to be getting out of their car soon if they’re listening to this car. Get on the ground, get into a single-leg stance like you would for a bridge, one leg is in the air and one leg is on the ground, and just pick your butt up off the ground. What muscles do you feel working really hard when you do that? A lot of people will feel their hamstring cramp. They may feel their back aching a little bit. You should ideally feel your glutes working really hard. And what that’s showing you is your go-to muscles for producing hip extension. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:43:34):

Now, if your glutes are burning really good, that means that your glutes are the first thing that you’re calling on, the most important muscle group.

How to neurologically recruit more musculature

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:44:23):

That’s what you should feel. Now, if you’re feeling your hamstrings cramp or your back move, that means that you’re over-relying on those areas to produce that movement. The glutes are still working. They’re not just turned off completely. You’re a functioning human being. The only way for those muscles not to be turned on at all is if there was an actual spinal cord injury. Those muscles are working, they’re just not being utilized as they should be. So, that’s an easy test to determine what your go-to muscles are. And whenever you learn to turn certain muscles on at the right time, prime your engine correctly, you’re turning those muscles on and it’s going to basically recruit them to a greater extent, neurologically.

Misbah (00:45:04):

Gotcha. Okay. Now, we’ve talked a little bit about external rotation, and I saw this question on your Instagram page from somebody asking about hip internal rotation. And this is one of those things for me as well, remember I was at a competition and I was getting worked on before an event like 10, 15 minutes. I always like doing that from time to time because I love hearing everybody’s different perspectives and where they’re coming from and like using that to learn. I remember somebody told me that I barely had any hip internal rotation on my left side. Could you elaborate a little bit more on that? How does that come into play when it comes to squatting? Why do we need hip internal rotation?

Why you need hip internal rotation to squat

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:45:48):

For sure. External rotation is obviously something that a lot of people first think of because they hear external rotation torque. Well, when you set up for a squat, your foot should be naturally a little bit more straightforward. If you’re bodyweight squatting, and I say I want your feet straightforward, it doesn’t mean exactly 100% straight forward. It means five to seven degrees of toe-out angle, which is your anatomically neutral position. Well, if your feet are in an anatomically neutral position, your body is in a certain amount of internal rotation. By then bracing, squeezing the ground, and driving your knees out to the side, you then create external rotation torque. Now, if you’re unable to even get your feet into a relatively straightforward position, your toes are already starting to spin out as you squat down because your body doesn’t have internal rotation.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:45:48):

It can only externally rotate. So basically, the reason we need internal rotation is to maintain our feet in a good stable position during the squat. We need external rotation, obviously, to be able to create that torque. But if you don’t have internal rotation, you can’t maintain your good squat stance with your feet relatively straightforward, and your feet are going to always have to spin off into the position of least resistance, which is into your desired external rotation position because that’s free of restriction. Does that make sense?

Misbah (00:47:13):

Yeah. So, are there a couple of exercises that come to mind for you that are really good for getting that range and getting internal rotation?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:47:23):

Definitely. So there are two big things. The first is stretching those internal rotators and a great way to do this is just laying on your back, your feet are going to be wide, and then you’re going to let one knee sort of cave-in, all the way down. And if you’re doing it correctly, you’ll feel a light stretch in the outside part of your hip. We call it a W stretch. You can do both legs at the same time or one leg at a time. Now for some people, when they do this stretch, they’ll actually get that pinching sensation in the hip. So, that may even be an indicator that we should do the bandage joint mobilization first that we talked about earlier, and then do that stretch.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:47:23):

Or you may just have that type of anatomy where we need to switch up the position a little bit. But the W internal rotation stretch is great.

Dr Aaron Horschig (00:48:06):

What I then like to also do is to make sure we’re priming our body to maintain that position. So, we’ll squat down into a deep bodyweight squat. Our feet are relatively straightforward. I’m then going to grab the ground, making sure my feet don’t move, and I’m going to squeeze my butt muscles and drive my knees out to the side. Also going to get into some externally rotated torque positions. I’m going to squeeze those muscles, but I make sure that my feet stay straightforward. I’m priming internal rotation positions with my hips, but with an externally rotated torque. And that way, whenever you eventually get your body into that squat position again, it’s natural to be a little bit more internally rotated or have that position available because you’re priming that area.

Misbah (00:48:54):

Okay. Awesome. Now here’s a Q that really stuck with me that I saw on your page, as well. When you’re coming out of the bottom of the squat, shins back first as your hips are driving up, this is one of those things that a lot of people don’t think about. When you’re watching people perform squats and you’re not initiating with the shins back, what’s kind of going on there? Are we putting a lot more pressure on our knees?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:49:23):

Definitely. And the thing is, I think this has been a little blown out of proportion by some people because they take the cue that you need to then bring your shins all the way back to a vertical position. If that’s the case, and you’re doing a front squat, if you bring those shins all the way back to a vertical position, your body has no other place to go than to let that chest drop forward because your butt’s going to shoot way far back. That’s not the goal. At the bottom of a deep squat, your knees are pretty far forward. If you drove straight up from that position, what usually happens is those knees are going to stay forward and sometimes you can be a little bit more off-balance. Your weight can sometimes shift towards your toes.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:50:03):

What I tell people to do is your glutes are going to be squeezed, you’re going to drive your hips and chest up at the same time, but bringing those shins back just a little bit from that position can engage those glutes and those hamstrings to drive up that hip extension. It can prime it out of the bottom just a little bit more. So for some people, it’s a great cue. If they’re very used to coming out of the bottom of the hole, staying forward, and almost becoming a little off-balance saying, “Hey, pull your shins back a little bit.” That can sometimes engage those glutes, the posterior chain, to help them drive a little bit better out of the bottom and stay balanced. So again, it’s a great cue. And if it worked for you, it’s amazing. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:50:03):

What I always like to tell coaches is to individualize their cues because the same cue isn’t right for every single person. For some people, if they’re already doing a very good job of being balanced in their ascent, if you tell them to pull their shins back even more, it may cause them to have too much posterior hip drive on the ascent, and it’s going to throw them off balance. So, always individualize your cue to the movement problems that you see.

Misbah (00:51:06):

Awesome. And I guess it’s also that synergy, right? Not just about shins back, it’s about shins back, hips up at the same time. And some people are able to do that much more naturally. If you watch somebody like Mattie Rogers, her coming out the bottom of a clean bottom snatch, I doubt that she has ever really thought about something like that. It’s just something that occurs for her. So, it’s the coach being able to kind of identifying what’s going on and decide, “Is this applicable?”

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:51:31):

Exactly. Yeah. And I have seen some people, obviously, there’s a big problem of people’s chest falling forward in the hips rising up too quickly during the squat. But I also see people that send me videos where their hips are driving way too far back on the ascent of the squad because they’re pulling their shins back too much. So yeah, again, it all comes down to individualizing the cues to make sure that in the end, our goal is always perfecting the movement coordination and quality.

 

Misbah (00:51:57):

Awesome. So, we touched a little bit on weightlifting shoes, right? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on barefoot squatting. What are your thoughts on that?

Barefoot squatting

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:52:07):

Definitely. Because we’re coming at it from a movement first perspective, barefoot squatting, as far as bodyweight is very, very important because it gets you out of your shoes, especially if throughout your day, you’re wearing a tennis shoe that has a big old air bubble in the back, get out of those things in learn to be able to feel the ground and squat without your shoes on. Because a lot of times, especially if you have a shoe that has a fairly high elevation or if you’re used to using a running shoe that’s got a 12-millimeter heel drop, you’re shortening your heel cord throughout the day and not utilizing your ankles as they were meant to be through a full range of motion. So, I like to be barefoot as much as possible, especially when I’m home.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:52:49):

So, that’s the first thing. Now, obviously talking about barbell squatting, is it bad to barefoot barbell squat. For some people, yes. For some people, no. And it all comes down to if they can maintain good foot stability and express good ankle mobility and have good technique. I’ve seen some people, they’ve got amazing foot stability; they can maintain their foot and a good arch. And have got good ankle mobility that they can translate further forward over their toe. They can barefoot squat big weight and it looks fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, you have to do a little self-actualization because some people don’t understand that their foot stability is crap and their ankle mobility sucks. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:52:49):

They try to barbell squat without on and it’s going to be disastrous because whenever you put yourself in a position like that and your foot collapses, your ankle’s not moving very well, it’s going to hinder technique all the way up.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:53:41):

So, all of a sudden, your knees are going to be a little bit off balance and your chest is going to be dropping forward. You’re going to be putting more pressure on your low back. So really taking some time and understanding, do I have the prerequisites in order to barbell squat barefoot, is going to be huge. Can you do it? Sure. Should everyone do it? No. So that’s going to be the big thing. It’s a gray area and you have to understand if it’s right for you.

Knee sleeves

Misbah (00:54:07):

Gotcha. Okay. Now, before we dig into some rapid fires, I want to get your thoughts on knee sleeves. When should we be using them? How often? What are some things to look out for when considering knee sleeves? Just your general thoughts on that.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:54:22):

So, the big thing to understand is, what is the difference between a knee sleeve and a knee wrap? Because a lot of people don’t understand the two. Knee wraps, where you see people sitting there and they’re wrapping around their knees, it’s used by powerlifters mostly, but you’ll see them sometimes in Olympic gym. Knee wraps create a mechanical efficiency effect where it is helping you lift more weight. The small rubber fibers that are in these heavy rubber knee sleeves create almost a rubber band effect that helps propel the athlete out of the bottom of the squat. So, it creates a mechanical advantage for them to lift more weight. Now, those are the big thick wraps. You’ll see some Olympic weightlifters that will use a very light knee wrap. That’s not doing the same thing. That’s just keeping their knees warm.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:55:09):

I’m talking specifically for the big, thick canvas knee wraps that have the rubber filament inside. Knee sleeves only keep your knees warm. Now, there are some brand new knee sleeves that are coming out that are extremely dense, maybe giving us a little bit different effect. I’m talking about your generalized rebound knee sleeve. They just keep the knees worn. What people need to not do is use these to cover up pain. And a lot of times people are like, “Oh, my knees are aching. My knees are hurting. I need to wear knee sleeves.” That’s not the right reason. What you’re doing is you’re putting a band-aid over a problem. The cause is still there. You need to understand why you’re having knee pain so you can fix the problem. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:55:09):

Now, if you’ve got two-hour workouts and you’re like, “man, my knees just started to feel cold. I wear some nice leaves and I feel like I’m a little bit more mobile. My knees feel warmer throughout the workout.”

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:55:55):

It’s fine. It’s not a problem to wear them at all. That’s what they’re meant for, to keep the knees warm, keep you moving, help you feel a little bit better throughout your workout. Some people like them because it helps them give a little bit of awareness to where their knees are. We call this kinesthetic awareness. That is completely fine. So, it’s really a gray area, whether or not you want to wear knee sleeves, but just know they A) should not be used to cover up pain in the knee, and B) they don’t help you lift more weight like a knee wrap would.

Misbah (00:56:29):

Got it. Okay. There are two brands I’m thinking of one is the Rehband Compression Sleeves that you’re talking about. And then the other one, I think Hookgrip makes them, it’s made from light cloth. What is the difference there? Is it just a matter of that compression or are they both serving to keep your knees warm? Or is one kind of stabilizing you a little more than the other?

Morning routine

Squat University Tip

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:56:57):

Yeah. I think it really comes down to which one’s going to provide a little more compression, keep a little bit more blood flow to the area. I don’t think you’re going to get an actual mechanical advantage from either of them. It’s almost like the difference between wearing a pair of tight shorts or Under Armour shorts. One’s going to feel a little bit tighter, it may help you feel like you can move a little bit better, but it’s not actually going to improve your performance. You know what I’m saying? In the end, they’re both just helping you stay nice and warm. For example, if anyone’s used the Tommy Kono knee sleeves, they’re extremely thick and they’re much warmer on your knees than the Rehband ones are.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:56:57):

So, there’s a lot of different types of construction, I guess we’ll say, for the knee sleeves, but in the end, they’re just there to keep your knees warm. And if you like how it feels, nothing wrong with them.

Misbah (00:57:50):

Awesome, man. All right. So, let’s dig into some rapid fires. These are not limited to just training or squatting. This is about life in general. So, what does your morning routine look like, if you have any at all?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:58:03):

My morning routine right now: I wake up at about 6:15-6:20 am, two eggs, sausage or bacon, a little bit of fruit, whole milk, and a protein shake, and get my butt to work. Usually, I start work between 7:00 and 7:30 am, every single day, seeing my first patients, and that’s the same morning routine for most of the week. I do have Thursdays off and still wake up at the same time, except I get a bunch of Squat University stuff out of the way, sitting on my couch rather than actually being at work, seeing patients.

Misbah (00:58:37):

Solid. What are three things you think about more than the average person?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:58:41):

Squatting is one of them. How my hips and ankles are feeling throughout the day. Yeah, those are the big ones. Basically, it’s been four hours and I haven’t sat in a deep squat yet today. I better get down and stretch my body out a little bit.

Misbah (00:58:57):

Awesome. Let’s say you had a few billion dollars, right? And you had a staff of 40 people and these 40 people are top thinkers, top performers in whatever it is that you’re recruiting them for. You wanted to use that to make some type of impact. What would you do?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (00:59:16):

Wow, that’s a good question. First off, my big thing is I would use the money to help promote the empowerment of everyone else. So first off, what I’d probably do is get the staff down to a couple of people. I don’t need 40 people to do our job. They could be doing something else. We would be doing a huge social media outreach, putting as much content out as possible to help other people live their lives better. The same thing I do with Squat University, just to a greater extent.

Misbah (00:59:52):

Okay. Yeah, that’s perfect. A lot of times people get stumped with this question. I’m like, “Hey, you can use that same money to do exactly what you’re doing now. Just amplify it, you know?”

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:00:01):

Yeah. Basically, putting out more content, more videos, more blogs, more books to help as many people as possible. Take as minimal as possible for my own salary. Because then, in the end, you can’t take money with you when you die. The goal is to help as many people as possible.

Misbah (01:00:16):

Absolutely. Let’s say you’re still a billionaire, right? And you could give two to three books to everybody in the country this year. What two to three books would they be?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:00:26):

For sure. Let’s see here, Becoming A Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett was a huge book for me. Let’s see here, Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk is another big book to help you find your own passion. The third book would be the book that I just came out with, The Squat Bible

Misbah (01:00:49):

Yeah. Tell me a little bit more about that. Because that’s released today. So, what went into making this book, and what inspired it? Let’s get into that a little bit.

The Squat Bible

Dr Aaron Horschig (01:01:02):

Definitely. So, it is the culmination of everything that I’ve tried to do here with Squat University over the past year and a half. The book is the simplest way of understanding how to fix your body when it comes to the squat. As I said, the reason that the squat is so important is that it sets the foundation for everything else that you’re doing, especially as an athlete and as a human being. So, if you can fix your squat, you’re going to have a better clean and to have a better snatch. You’re going to be able to go up and downstairs a little bit better. Also, going to be able to go play with your kids when you’re 60 years old or your grandkids because your body’s more functionally active and strong enough to be able to handle the loads that life throws on you.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:01:42):

It starts off with just learning basic, simple techniques. There’s a number of books that do this, so why is this different? Well, because the next couple of chapters, what we do is show you simple screens that you can use to break down your body and find the weak links that are holding you back from finding your true potential. Is it ankle mobility? I don’t know. Let’s try this test. What did you find? Yes or no? Oh, you find an ankle mobility restriction? Here’s what you need to do then to perfect that ankle mobility, which will then help your front squat and your back squat. So, that’s the thing that I think is unique to the book that other books haven’t done is help you find out exactly what your body needs. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:01:42):

Because the last thing I want to do is just throw a thousand corrective exercises at you. And then, you have no idea, do I need to do ankle mobility? Do I need you to do overhead mobility? Well, let me show you. Let me help explain it in the simplest way possible so that you can find the tools that your body needs to be able to perfect your technique, improve your potential to lift bigger weights, and live the life that you want to live.

Misbah (01:02:49):

Yeah. That the screens are super beneficial because we could be thinking this whole time that it’s our hips that are limiting us when in reality it could be your ankles. But until we actually do screen and evaluate, you don’t really know for sure. You’re just kind of guessing.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:03:05):

Exactly. And I see it in all my athletes when they come in with injuries and the big thing comes with the shoulder. Young athletes do not have stiff shoulders, but a lot of people get into a problem with their overhead squats. They say, “well, it has to be my shoulders. I have to do more mobility.” And the thing is that if they did more mobility for their shoulders, they would make an already hyper-mobile joint, even more mobile, and they would push themselves into a position where they could then end up injuring themselves. So, that’s why giving mobility tools out there, haphazardly without qualifying who needs these movements, can really set some people up for some bad injuries in the future. That’s why I show you some of these tools and I go, “Hey, do you need this? Yes or no, if you don’t move on.” 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:03:05):

Because it may be that your problem getting into an overhead squat position, isn’t due to mobility, it’s due to a shoulder instability problem and you need to do some corrective exercises to improve your stability, coordination, and your strength. That will help you in the end. So, it’s all about individualizing what corrective exercises you do so that you have the most efficient outcomes.

Misbah (01:04:15):

That’s crucial, especially because you only have so much time in the day. If you’ve got 15 minutes afterward to focus on something and you’re focusing on mobility, when you could be on stability, it’s just a smarter way to go about it.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:04:27):

Exactly. I always say be efficient and effective with the exercises you choose so you can get the most out of what your end goal is.

Misbah (01:04:35):

Absolutely. So is there something you feel like you don’t get asked enough about? Something you wish people would ask you more?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:04:40):

Oh gosh. That’s a good question. You know, there’s a lot of questions. I did something recently on Instagram called the “Ask Squat U Show” and I’ll record those shows and put them up on YouTube. So, there’s a ton of information that comes in through that. So, I’m trying to think if there’s one that doesn’t get asked enough. I think a big one is how to use a weightlifting belt properly. Some people do ask it, but a lot of people don’t realize that they’re using a weightlifting belt the wrong way. They think that just by wearing it tightly, they’re doing enough. And what we find is that if you’re not actually breathing and bracing your stomach into the belt, basically expanding your core into the belt that you’re wearing, you’re not using it efficiently. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:04:40):

And by improving the way you’re using it, you’re going to be so much more stable and able to lift so much more weight.

Breathing and Belts

Squat University Tip

Misbah (01:05:31):

This actually just sparked a question that I had for you but I forgot. When it comes to breathing and bracing your core while you are squatting, let’s say that you have to pause for a couple of seconds at the bottom of a squat, right? You’re doing maybe a three RM and at the bottom of each rep and you’re pausing for like a three to five count. Are you holding your breath at this point? Or be able to breathe?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:05:53):

Good question. A) It’s going to depend on first how heavy the weight is. Let’s say it’s a lightweight, let’s say I’m just warming up. I’ve got 70 kilos on my back. I’m eventually going to work up to like 180 kilos. So I’m at like less than 50%, you can sit at the bottom of a deep squat for a couple of seconds and just sort of breath naturally. And you’ll be fine. It’s really lightweight. It’s easy to be able to maintain your core stability. Once you get up to your heavyweights, you’re not going to be able to let your air all the way out, because what happens is that you’re going to completely decrease that natural core stability that just worked, your intra-abdominal cavity pressure.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:06:33):

It’s going to decrease to the point where you’re basically putting a lot of pressure on the smaller structures of your spine. So, let’s say you’re doing a pretty heavy paused rep. As you get down to the bottom, I want you to be able to take small breaths. Especially three to five seconds, that’s a long time to hold your breath with that much weight on your back. You want to be able to take very small sips in and out of air, but you want to maintain that huge core stability that you worked on. I always say big breath in, brace your core, hold your breath, get down to the bottom, maybe take a couple of sips in and out, but you have to maintain a huge core brace, that good intra-abdominal cavity pressure, and then back up. 

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:06:33):

So, it’s sort of an in-between as far as holding it and letting in a little bit of air.

Misbah (01:07:18):

Okay, perfect. Awesome. What should a coach or athlete take away from this podcast? How can they make themselves better today by listening to this?

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:07:27):

The big thing that I want people to take away is the understanding that if you move well first and improve your technique, bodyweight squat and barbell, think about your technique every single time and move with the intention to perform a perfect rep, every single time, good things are going to happen. You’re going to eventually lift bigger weight and you’re going to reach the potential in a safer way, if you come at it with that mindset,

Misbah (01:07:51):

All right, phenomenal. And how can we support you? Where can we point people to? Let us know how we can support the journey.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:07:58):

Definitely. So, you can find me, squatuniversity.com is my blog website. I try to come out with weekly or bi-weekly blogs. I’m on all social media aspects, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat under Aaron Horschig. For Facebook have Squat University as well. And also, my very first book, The Squat Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Squat and Finding Your True Strength, just came out today. You can find it on amazon.com. 

Misbah (01:08:28):

Awesome, man. I will get all that linked up in the show notes. Thank you so much for doing this man. I love what you’re doing and you’re helping a lot of people and appreciate you coming on and dropping some knowledge.

Dr. Aaron Horschig (01:08:37):

Hey, I really appreciate it. It was a lot of fun.

Misbah (01:08:40):

Thank you so much for listening guys. I know you’re probably driving right now. You’re probably eating, cooking, or working out or You’re doing something else, but make sure you head over to theairbornemind.com, check out some of the free coaching videos, warmups, guides, checklists, and all the things that you can use to make the best use out of your training time. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you guys and it would really help me out so I can continue creating awesome stuff for you. And remember the greatest compliment you can give is by sharing it with somebody else who might enjoy it or somewhere on the web. So once again, thank you so much for being a listener and supporting the show. Until next time.

Connect w/ Dr. Aaron Horschig: https://www.instagram.com/draaronhorschig/

Rebuilding Milo: The Lifter’s Guide to Fixing Common Injuries and Building a Strong Foundation for Enhancing Performance

https://www.amazon.com/Rebuilding-Milo-Foundation-Enhancing-Performance/dp/1628604220