Cook Deep Squat Mobility Progression with Video Demonstration

Posted on 07 Dec 2011 16:11

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The Cook Deep Squat Mobility drill explained here was designed by Gray Cook and outlined in depth in his book Athletic Body in Balance. The drill is meant to help you achieve a perfect position for the overhead squat, from the hips to the shoulders. It will build your mobility for all squatting activities.

For an in-depth discussion of overhead squat mobility, see Tweaking the Overhead Squat, which includes this drill and much, much more.

Mobility Category

Hips, thoracic spine, shoulders, and ankles. Essentially the entire kinetic chain as needed for a deep overhead squat position.

Items Needed

  • A block or small platform, phone books or large books, to place your hands on
  • A small plank of wood to elevate the heels

These items are to be used in the beginning, and eliminated as more mobility is gained (see explanation).

Cook Deep Squat Drill Explanation

1. Stand with your heels on a one or two inch board or platform and your feet shoulder width apart or wider. Have a 4 to 6 inch block centered in front of your feet. You can also use phonebooks, other large books, or anything else you have on hand that will fit the bill. You will need to gradually reduce the height or both the hand platform and heel plank (if needed) as you go until you can eliminate them altogether. To begin, use the lowest hand block and heel plank that you can.

To find the right stance width, you may wish to jump straight up a down a few times (you don't need to jump very high). The stance width you end up with after the last jump should be just about right for your squatting.

2. Bend forward at the hips until the entire palm can be laid on the books, other block, or platform. Try to keep your lower back in it's natural arch and do not round forward, if you can avoid it. Keep your heels down and your knees extended but do NOT lock them out completely (slightly bent).

3. While keeping your hands flat on the books slowly descend into a squat position by bending your hips, knees and ankles simultaneously. Allow your knees to go to the outside of your elbows so that your elbows are able to push outward on your knees.

4. Try not to move your feet. Keep them still and in the same position. Push your knees out with your elbows but do not let your feet drift out. When you squat you will not likely be doing it with your feet straight ahead but for this mobility drill try to point them forward).

5. Sit as deeply into a squat position as you can. Relax into it. You may feel a stretch. Hold it for about 15 to 20 seconds. If you can't get a deep squat then use a higher heel lift and/or a higher hand platform.

6. Once you can sit in the squat without moving the heels or hands progress by raising one arm up high as if reaching for the sky. Do not change your foot or knee position and do not shift your weight. Turn your head toward the working side and look up toward your hand.

7. Repeat on the other side. If one side of your body is tighter, work it more. The goal is to keep the lower body relaxed with the upper body moving freely. Once you have equal mobility on both sides and can do it relaxed move on to using both hands at once so that they are both overhead in a Y position, taking your hands as far back as possible, again, without changing lower body position.

8. Once step 7 is achieved try standing up out of the deep squat position and perform repetitions by repeating the steps starting with the bent forward position and the hands on the platform or books. Do 10 or 12 reps for practice. Once that is easy work on getting rid of the heal elevation and the hand platform.

Deep Squat Progression Demonstration Video


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