9/9/15 - Fall Strength Challenge – Chapter 1

Hello, all of you strong humans. I wanted to talk a bit about the back squat, and give some mobility exercises and some strengthening exercises to add into your program for the next eight weeks, or for good if you would like. Assistance exercises are there to build up the primary movement. Assistance exercises will be unique to each individual according to weak points in the choice primary movement.

Here are few common weak points in the back squat and some suggestions on the mobility and strength side for each. The list of these exercises goes on and on. These are just a few.

Loss of trunk position-rounding of the spine. I feel that there are a couple reasons this happens. The first and most obvious I believe is lack of strength in the trunk. Failure to maintain position of the spine can cause many other issues. It’s good to nip this in the bud quickly. A few good exercises for trunk strengthening are:

Barbell Bent Row – Having a strong upper back is important in supporting the load on your shoulders. Lats are a big part of this. Bent Rows are a great way to work upper back, and some static hamstring work to boot. See Video Here: BB BENT OVER ROW

Reverse Hyper – Great exercise for building up strength of low back/spinal erectors. It is very important to have a tight belly while doing this. Your belly gives your spine the support it needs, so you are able to work your spinal erectors. See Video Here: REVERSE HYPER

Static GHD Holds – Hold body face up, shorten distance between sternum and pubic bone, and just hold. Try without a ball, then add a ball if needed.See Video Here: GHD STATIC AB HOLD (MED BALL)

Mobility can also be a cause leading to loss of trunk position. If an athlete has tight hips, their trunk will tip forward in the squat, very often leading to rounding in the spine. With mobile hips the athlete is able to sit much more upright in the bottom of the squat, thus decreasing the need for forward inclination, and strain on the trunk. A few exercises to improve hip mobility are below.

KB Goblet Squat Hold (with wall assist) -Use a kettlebell to assist in driving knees out. Sit for 30s to a minute, actively pressing knees out. Drop the kettlebell then stand. See Video Here: KB BTM SQUAT

Banded Hip Flexor – Squeeze belly and drive hip forward. The band will assist. See Video Here: BANDED HIP FLEXER

Wall Squat – The goal is to have whole foot on the floor, and get closer and closer to the wall. It’s supposed to be an awkward movement and put you in positions your not comfortable in. Feeling a stretch in your hips and your thoracic (middle) spine is normal. See Video Here: WALL SQUAT

General strength issues in the legs can also cause problems. Maybe one leg is a bit stronger than the other. Maybe an athlete’s knees go in when the athlete stands up out of the bottom. Maybe the athlete doesn’t go to depth (hip below knee) not because of flexibility, but because of strength. There are plenty of exercises we can do here. Squat variations are definitely in this list. This can be attacked by doing both legs together or doing exercises that are performed on one side then the other. I believe the more exercises that we can incorporate, the better off we are. Like I mentioned earlier, your personal assistance exercises may not look the exact same as someone else, but your squat doesn’t look the same either. Here are a few to try.

Bulgarian Split Squat – There should be pressure in your whole front foot. This is a mobility and strength drill. At the bottom you should feel tension in the front of your hip on the back leg, and the hamstring of your front leg. Go to the bottom under control, then stand. See Video Here: BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT

Sandbag Front Squat – Maintaining upright torso, hold sandbag into sternum, take a big breath, squeeze your belly and perform the squat. See Video Here: SANDBAG FRONT SQUAT

Sled Push – Push a sled fast, push a sled slow, take long strides, pull a sled forwards, backwards. Sleds are incredible at building a strong stride. Great for working on imbalances between legs. See Video Here: SLED PUSH

Mobility in the legs can also be a limiting factor. If an athlete cannot get into a position, how is the athlete supposed to develop strength there? Here are a few mobility exercises to try for the legs.

Lying Wall Straddle – Drive hips to floor, drive hips to wall, have legs straight, pull toes back towards face. Start with a minute and increase as needed. See Video Here: LYING WALL STRADDLE

Banded Ankle (with DB Assist) – Try the exercise without the DB first, then add the DB when needed. Can also be performed at standing, driving knee forward of toe. Keep whole foot on the ground. See Video Here: BANDED ANKLE (DB ASSIST)

Barbell Quad Smash – The evil step brother of foam rolling. Start with a light barbell. Roll 4-5 passes from above knee to below hip, avoiding joints. Stay in the muscle. You can roll inside, top, outside corner, and side.  See Video Here: BB QUAD SMASH

If you have other favorites, feel free to chime in, in the comments below. Let’s get strong. I will be the first to admit, I have plenty of things to work on.


Danny Lesslie


9/9/15 WOD

Spend 15 minutes on the (full) snatch..



Complete the following for time:


Power Snatch (135/95)

Toes to Bar