Single-leg exercises are no fun. Bilateral is slightly better, but with today’s tempo I still won’t be letting you off easy!
THE MOVE: Kettlebell Squat w/ 3-second Eccentric
MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Squat: quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
WHY DO IT: Our current obsession with the squat continues here today. Jeff took you through 5 squat variations you could use to change things up in this article; here’s another one that is not only great, but for a lot of us, absolutely necessary.
First off, the goblet squat, wherein the trainee holds a weight like a goblet of liquor in front of his/her body, is one of the simplest yet most effective squat variations you can use in the gym. The anterior loading of the weight reflexively engages the core. It also cleans up squatting technique for a lot of people, forcing them to stay upright and squat between their legs. It’s hard to dump forward with a weight in front of you–it’ll just feel heavier, and heavier, and heavier.
Today’s move is a progression on the goblet squat. For this move, you are holding two kettlebells in the mid-rack position, and also adding a lifting tempo. Like the goblet position, the mid-rack position also provides an anterior load for your body. The lifting tempo today emphasizes the eccentric, or lowering phase of the lift. This 3-second tempo forces you to lower your body with control, helping you build awareness of where your body is in space. It also makes the set longer, so feel the burn.
The mid-rack position also mimics the positioning required for the barbell front squat, another variation of the squat. In both of these, you must keep your torso upright, and in the latter, failing to do so means dumping the bar in front of you. As such, today’s move is like an easier version of the front squat. It’ll still teach you how to get the proper extension in your upper back in order to do front squats proficiently in the future.
HOW TO DO IT: For today’s move, grab two dumbbells/kettlebells and hold them in the mid-rack position. The bells should rest against your wrists and your chest. In order to do so, think about keeping your elbows tucked into your body and packing your shoulders down.
Take a squat stance that’s comfortable for you. Generally speaking, this is normally a stance where your feet are hip width apart and your toes flared outward slightly. Now instead of sitting back, think about sitting between your legs without leaning forward at the torso. Keep the knees out, and think about maintaining a constant arch in both feet. Take 3 seconds to lower yourself into the very bottom of the squat, and when it doubt, make it 4 seconds. It’s easy to cheat when the weights begin feeling heavy.
Throughout this lift, the weight of your body should be balanced over the entirety of each foot. Thus, you should be dropping down in a straight line, and coming up the same way. Finish the lift by punching the hips through and standing up straight. Repeat for reps.
The Kettlebell Squat with 3-second Eccentric is not as technique-intensive as other squat variations, so I like using them towards the end of a workout. 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps can be absolutely brutal but effective at the end of a workout, and may even get people breathing heavy. Especially for less-conditioned folks (like yours truly). Let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.