Categorized as: Exercise

The Squat is the epitome of functionality

The beauty of functional movements is that our goal is to build enough mobility to make those movements feel most natural. In doing so it will make those movements easier and allow us a greater capacity to perform at our greatest potential. We want to work on those movements that improve on mobility natural.

The Olympic lifts are a great example of functionality. They require us to squat, lift the weight from the ground and press overhead. They are all movements that we perform in everyday life to a certain degree.

Here’s a link to a great mobility drill you can use when barbell lifting to help with an upright torso. As goofy as this kid looks here, his name is Jon North, and he holds the American Record for a 365lb snatch.

Another test we recommend all our athletes to perform is the 10-minute squat test. The concept is easy, the execution difficult. Can you sit in a relax squat for 1ominutes without having to stand up due to cramps or painful joints? If you can there’s no need to stretching. If you can’t, you need to sit in a squat more often. This test alone has developed great range of motion for our athletes than any other test we have ever tried. 

Learning the Power Clean in 60 seconds

The utility of the Power Clean is unparalleled. Not only does this exercise develop explosive power coupled appropriately can produce effective conditioning doses. 

As a staple exercise in our gym, our coaches have mastered a simple warmup for the Power Clean. At the novice and intermediate level, the Power Clean is a hybrid exercise of both the Deadlift and a partial Front Squat. The third most crucial instructional advice we teach is how to add speed and timing to the lift. 


The narrow stance and hand placement of the Power Clean are very similar to the Deadlift, plus or minus a few inches. More importantly, we teach our athletes how to initiate the Power Clean with their legs and not their back. When the deadlift is trained correctly the transition to the Power Clean is smooth. 

Front Squat

If the start position is the DL, then the finish position is a partial front squat. Here the athletes learn approximate heights where they feel comfortable catching the bar, while learning how vital resting the bar across the shoulders is. Pausing athletes in the partial squat teaches them balance and body awareness. For coaches it allows us to see possible errors in the Power Clean before ever attempting the entire motion. 

Hang Power Clean

The considerable distance from the ground to partial front squat creates multiple error points. By starting in a hang and “dragging the bar to the top of the knee” before jumping to the Front Squat works miracles in timing and lack of explosiveness. Keep it simple. “Jump and land in a partial front squat” eliminates the tendency of pausing and overthinking. 

Power Clean

The effectiveness of this teaching progression is that we can chunk this movement into its parts before building it back up. An error in the Power Clean is usually an error in Steps 1, 2, and/or 3. Placing the athlete at the step and correcting the fault is the smartest thing a coach can do.

As you get more comfortable coaching this progression, this can be performed as a warmup. When you’re first learning this complex it acts more like an instructional piece.


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I hacked the dreaded warm up

By: Coach Mario

I can’t think of many things I hate in life but warming up for a workout is definitely one of them.

For me, I don’t have the convenience of training for long periods of time. So my window of opportunity comes between coaching classes and office hours. From start to finish my session lasts 25 minutes. Warming up would drag that time out even longer.

For me, the purpose of a warm-up is about getting my body primed and ready for intense training. I call it getting “hot and sweaty”. Until that moment comes I jack around in the gym until I feel myself break a sweat. I’ve never regretted warming up before lifting heavy but something in my mind always tells me to skip it. You know exactly what I’m talking about. 

As I’ve gotten older I’ve had to come up with creative solutions for preparing my body for training while removing the monotony that is attached to stretching and jogging.

These are some of my favorite creative warmups:

  1. Tabata Squats

Tabata is an interval of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest; repeated 8x. Every set I flow through Air Squats at whatever pace I feel like. I use the squat because of it’s bigger muscle group in comparison to the upper body. But really there are no limitations to the body weight exercises I use. Use a timer to hold yourself accountable.

2. Ladder Drills (video)

It’s rare we train for speed, agility, and quickness but ladder drills can be a great addition to a warm-up. It’s fun, challenging, and different from the traditional norm of warm-up exercises. I go back and forth until I can’t come up with other movements to complete. That usually does the trick.

3. Barbell Warmup (video)

This is by far my favorite warm-up because I heart weightlifting. It becomes, even more, fun with I add a Tabata interval to the mix. Every set I change the barbell exercise. Matter of fact, I don’t know the exercise I will perform until the prior set is over. Not only am I breaking a sweat, my heart is pounding ready and prepared for the training session.

There’s tons of evidence that promotes the benefits of a sound warm up. More than that, I just feel and perform better when I spend time preparing for my workout.

Doing something will always trump doing nothing.

Give it a try. Let me know what you think!

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