Squat the difference? The Olympic and Back Squat

Hello and welcome to my first ever blog for Joes Garage Gym. Over the coming months I will be researching and writing articles on Boxing, Strength & Conditioning and also Olympic Weightlifting.
I intend to provide relevant information that you can all understand, adapt and use in the much-loved classes. Enjoy….
Today we’re talking Squats, and in particular the ‘Olympic Squat’. In this article I will cover:
1. The Definition of a Squat
2. The difference between an Olympic squat in comparison to the low bar back squat
3. How to execute the Olympic squat correctly
4. Limitations that will effect the ability for correct movement
5. Benefits of Squatting
6. Cues to remember when squatting
1. The Squat
A Squat is a compound exercise, which are multi-joint movements that rely on the coordinated actions of several muscle groups to move two or more joints through a range of motion. In the squat, the participant will rest a weighted bar across the back of the shoulders, take a deep breath in and lower their body to sit in between the heels. From here, they will momentarily pause and then drive back up to the start position using the legs.
2. Difference between the two squats
The difference between the Olympic squat and the low bar back squat is primarily the forcing on an upright torso whilst performing the exercise. The bottom position of the Olympic squat replicates the receiving position of the Clean in the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch, and therefore is more commonly used as a training variable when improving in Olympic Weightlifting. Also, due to the shorter horizontal distance between the barbell and the hips there’s a greater demand for strength in the Quadriceps as the hips are placed lower than the knees. This is demonstrated in the picture below:

Joe's Garage Gym Olympic Squat

1. Low Bar Back Squat 2. Olympic Squat

3. Correct execution of Olympic Squat
The participant will rest the bar high up on the back of the shoulders, inhale a deep breath and then lower the torso to sit in between the heels. The hips will shift slightly back from the heels and the knees will protrude considerably over the toes; this will allow the hips to be lowered to the fullest depth anatomically possible whilst maintaining an upright torso. Upon arriving at this full depth the closing of the knee joint will create a ‘bounce’. This will indicate that the squat has been executed to full depth and the stretch reflex produced from the bounce will aid the participant in recovering from the most difficult part of the squat. (This is utilising the stretch reflex scientifically named myotatic reflex )
4. Limitations
The most common limitation I see when coaching the Olympic Squat is inflexibility through the ankles. This causes the heels to elevate from the platform as the lifter lowers into the full depth position. Also tightness through the hip extensors can cause an early scoop of the pelvis (the back rounds in the bottom position). This will cause extension of the spine to be lost whilst performing the squat and will place unwanted torque on the spine. These both can be eliminated through performing dynamic range of motion exercises prior to starting any squats and also raising the heels from the ground by using some small weight plates. This will assist in the ability to maintain the upright position. Olympic Weightlifting shoes have a wedge built in as part of their structure to replicate this.
5. Benefits
The benefits of squatting are endless, particularly in the world of sport and fitness. Squats are used as a staple training exercise for increased performance in a variety of sports such as: Volleyball, Rugby, Cycling and so on. The main difference will be the reps, sets, feet placement and the speed in which the squat is performed depending on the desired end goal. For eg, endurance, power, strength or mass. Due to the large muscle groups that are used during the squat there’s a high energy demand post workout as well as during the workout. This will lead to calorie burning 24 hours after a squatting. The body also has serge in metabolic hormones.
6. Cues to remember when Olympic squatting
• Feet must be outside hip width and slightly turned out
• Inhale the abdomen as well as the chest before starting movement
• Let the knees move forward over and in line with the toes
• Chest up
• Exhale only when you finish the repetition
I hope you have all learned something from this and will put it into use next time on the platforms up at the gym.
Next months issue I’ll be guiding you all on how to rotationally use your hips to develop power in boxing. This will be the next stage of the classes.
Happy squatting guys!
Any questions regarding all things boxing, strength & conditioning and Olympic weightlifting then please don’t hesitate to write to me via email

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