Training Tip Tuesday

Barbell Kneeling Squat

Since I started up the rollerderbystrengthcoach blog, I’ve gotten a lot of emails about what sort of exercises skaters should be doing. It’s a great question, but one with a vast array of answers. What you SHOULD be doing depends on what your goals are, what your current physical condition is like, what your current performance metrics look like, where you are in your season, whether you have any injury or biomechanical/kinesthetic restrictions, etc… in other words, it’s a really difficult question to answer in a vacuum.

There are, however, some movements that can be incorporated into pretty much any players’ arsenal of off-skates exercises. One of my faves is the barbell kneeling squat.

I know it looks a bit silly, and if you’ve ever been in a gym where you’ve seen this done you probably associate it with bikini competitors rather than contact sport athletes, but trust me, this is a good one.

Hip extension is, by and large, the most important movement in any sport that requires an athlete to move their entire body or generate power. There are 4 primary muscles involved in hip extension but the largest and most powerful is the gluteus maximus (aka, the glutes). Yep, your butt muscles are the ones we’re targeting here.

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Kneeling squats work great for skating refs, too. 

You may be thinking, “but don’t regular squats and lunges work your butt?” If you are then you’re partially right, but the truth is regular squats and lunges produce far less activity in the muscle fibers that make up the glutes than this exercise does, regardless of the type or depth of the squat or lunge. In fact, the only category of exercise that elicits MORE peak butt-muscle-fiber activity are those that allow for hip hyperextension, like hip thrusts and glute bridges.

Now you’re probably thinking, “why don’t we just do hip thrusts and glute bridges then?” Well, we do. Lots of them. We do squats of all different varieties as well. But here’s the snazzy thing about kneeling squats that makes them worthwhile… the position in a kneeling squat severely disadvantages your hamstrings and prevents them from taking over for your glutes, a problem that lots of people, particularly beginners, have when doing hyperextension-type exercises like hip thrusts. Plus, because you have to stabilize the bar by keeping your core tight and your thoracic spine stiff throughout the movement, you’re getting a hell of a lot of workout with just this one simple exercise.

It looks weird, but a few cheeky stares in the gym are worth the results, I promise. (See what I did there?) Anyway, it’s time to get your butt to the gym and give it a try.

  • special thanks to Kitten Not Submitten’ from Gold Coast Derby Grrls for being my demo victim… 🙂

If you like learning cool new exercises like this for derby training, then you definitely don’t want to miss our free #upyourgame fitness challenge. There’s only a few days left to get in on it though, so make sure to get the details and sign up today!

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