Coach Brian Chambers is a talented young Weightlifting and CrossFit coach based in Tallahassee, Fl, specializing in finding an athlete's weakness and fixing it to improve overall performance. Brian has a fantastic knowledge of the strength world with a lot to say.
A couple months ago I had a minor dislocation while squatting. My right femur had slid forward in the socket, and the 5 rep max back squat I was doing was the last straw. Maybe I was late to the party, but it turns out that you can’t just squat heavy all the time without warming up. It has taken several months to get to the point where I can squat comfortably without pain again, and that is mostly due to developing the right warm-up sequence.
The three exercises I do without fail when warming up for my squats are:
- Foam rolling above the glutes
- Glute bridge variations
- Standing Glute Bridge kickbacks
Say what you will about foam rolling, but it makes my hips feel better, therefore I do it. If it doesn’t work for you, then congratulations, don’t do it. To start, you’ll need a foam roller, preferably one with the teeth on it. Start by sitting on the foam roller. Cross the leg of the glute you want to work on over your other leg (ankle onto the thigh). Lean your weight onto the glute of the crossed leg and slowly roll. What you are doing here is stretching the glute and rolling the piriformis. More than likely you will feel an immense amount of pain if you have been squatting for any period of time. Spend at least 90 seconds to 2 minutes on each side. Here is a link. PLEASE ignore the toe shoes as much as you can!
Next I do 2 rounds of:
- :20 second Glute-Bridge Hold
- :20 second right leg Glute-Bridge Hold
- :20 second left leg Glute Bridge Hold
- :20 seconds of Glute Bridges
The goal is to go through each round without resting. This will help break a sweat and get the glutes and hamstrings warmed up. It will almost act as a test for any unilateral weaknesses; is my left side stronger than my right side? Often weightlifters have a dominant glute. This comes from the leading leg in the jerk constantly being stimulated more than the back leg, specifically with regards to glute development. This circuit can be done by itself, or preferably with a band around the knees. I really like the Hip Circle from Mark Bell (no affiliation, I just like the product).
The last thing I do is probably the most important part of my warm up.
The Standing Glute Kick-back is also one of the most ridiculous looking exercises, but it does the trick. I’m sure you have seen a bunch of scantily clad instagram models doing this and almost instantly disregarded its functionality! This exercise certainly does have its place however when done correctly.
tart by grabbing the squat rack for balance and swing one leg back and slightly off to the side, squeezing the glute throughout the movement. It is important that you do not move your leg for the sake of moving your leg. Your leg should only move through the contraction of the glutes. There should be no lower back movement. Try to squeeze your glute so hard that it extends your leg back. There’s no need for any resistance on this as it is a warm up, not the workout. Try doing one set of 20 on each leg before grabbing the barbell, and you will notice the difference. Enjoy this video of this fitchick demoing the movement...
ll in all, this warm up should take about 5-8 Mins. This is what works for me, and if you have tight hips or have issues with getting low in the squat or keeping your knees out, try it and see if it helps. If you give any of these a try, let me know how it goes, or if you have any questions, shoot me a message on instagram @coachbchambers and I will be happy to help.