By Darrick Truong

Do you feel like you’re going to fall over when you squat? Or do your hips shoot up first up from the bottom? Here’s what it might look like.

One of the primary causes of these faulty squat patterns is a failure to create or maintain upper back stiffness. Think of your core and the job it does to protect your spine and transfer forces between your lower and upper body. During squats, your upper back and shoulder stabilizers do the same and also contribute to the overall stiffness of your “core.” Losing upper back stiffness causes a leak of energy which is why the barbell and upper body stop moving upward and the hips shoot up, making it very hard to keep your chest up.

For people with this problem, we incorporate the facepull RNT squat drill into their warmup. What this drill does to improve on these faulty patterns is two-fold. First, pulling the band to your chest gets the upper back muscles activated and ready to support the barbell on your back. With a heavy weight on your shoulders, you need the upper back to stiffen up and provide stability to your overall system so that energy doesn’t leak and cause UNWANTED movement. Secondly, as you perform this drill, the band tension pulls your upper body forward, simulating a squat where the hips shoot up or the upper body falls forward. The act of resisting the band (keeping your torso more upright) during this squat drill allows your body and brain to figure out ways to correct itself. Then once you squat without the band, your body will naturally fight to stay more upright.

How to do it

Set up a band about face level or higher on a squat rack. Pull the band apart and towards your chin, mimicking your grip on the barbell when you squat. Holding the activation in your back muscles, squat up and down as best you can, making it look like you’re squatting normally without a band pulling you forward. Start with 2 sets of 10 before your barbell squats. Do more as needed during your squat warmup sets. Good luck and happy squatting!

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