Whether we are talking basic human movement or athletic preparation, the conversation will ALWAYS include squats.
Squatting is a foundational movement pattern that is incredibly important to develop, maintain, and improve not only for dominating on the lacrosse field, but for living a healthy, mobile lifestyle as you age. Squatting stresses the primary movers of the body and requires functional mobility and core stability to be performed correctly.
Lacrosse athletes—and all athletes in general—will benefit from progressing into heavy squats. While enticing, the road to big weight on the bar starts by mastering unloaded movement mechanics first.
A multitude of benefits can be derived from consistent squatting, and not just with weight. Simple bodyweight squats challenge an athlete’s hip and ankle mobility and torso control, as well as highlight potential injury sites.
The bodyweight squat is a movement pattern you’ll want to maintain ‘till you’re old and gray, so it’s important to get it dialed in early. If possible, spend less time sitting and more time moving and placing your body in positions where hip mobility can be increased.
Incorporating bodyweight movements that help open the hips, stretch the hamstrings, and improve your movement foundations is a necessary task to master before loading up the bar.
Going directly from bodyweight to squats with a barbell can be a real challenge, especially if the body is relatively weak or deconditioned to begin with. Using a basic squat progression will condition an athlete to use the right movement patterns in a safe manner, and help prepare the athlete for harder and heavier squatting sessions.
Starting with bodyweight squats, you can determine which parts of your body require more mobility and balance, or what needs to be changed form-wise to accommodate for restrictions.
From there, the next step in the progression is to add a single dumbbell for perform a Goblet Squat.
The Goblet Squat requires a load to be resisted, offering a counterweight to the athlete’s body mass, and helps ingrain the feeling of “sitting back” into the squat, which is key to engaging the posterior chain.
Progressing to using two dumbbells to perform a Dumbbell Front Squat places extra loading on the movement pattern and more demand on upper back stability.
Compared to the Goblet Squat, the Dumbbell Front Squat also brings the point of resistance a little farther back, which challenges the balance and postural control of the athlete.
The final step in the squat progression can be either the Barbell Back Squat or the Barbell Front Squat.
Both lifts can handle heavy loads and stress most of the same muscle groups, but individual abilities in terms of flexibility or joint restriction can make one lift more suitable than the other for each athlete.
The front squat is a good tool to train a vertical torso position, and helps develop awareness of maintaining tension through the upper body during the movement.
Transferring from front squats to back squats will be easier with a developed awareness of upper-body tension and torso control. The back squat allows the athlete to lift the most absolute weight, and is therefore crucial for developing strength within the movement pattern.
The squat taxes the largest motor units in the body and helps develop the strength and power necessary for dominance on the lacrosse field. Challenging your body to support a heavy load through the full squat range-of-motion leads to increases in your body’s structural strength (core strength), postural control, and balance.
If you haven’t already started incorporating squats into your training program, the time has come. Start slowly and master the bodyweight squat before loading up your bar to ensure you’ve got the movement pattern down.
Once you’ve developed the strength and mobility necessary for proper technique, get heavy!
Squatting heavy weights will not only make you a stronger and more powerful lacrosse athlete, but it will also help keep you moving and functional for years and years to come.