A Unique Alternative To The Goblet Squat
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
When your clients begin creating and inventing cool and unique exercises that you never thought of, you know you’ve done at least a semi-decent job of teaching them the tricks of the trade. Case in point, here’s my awesome client and national figure competitor Leslie Petch demonstrating one of her own very clever exercise concoctions that we’ve labeled as the longitudinal trap bar front racked squat.
Think of this as a movement variation that’s similar to a goblet squat only easier to overload as the shoulders are placed into a more conducive position for maintaining optimal postural alignment. That’s because the hands are placed to the sides of the torso rather than in front.
Oh and before I highlight how to perform this movement and why this is such an effective exercise I first want to wish Leslie a very happy birthday this Saturday. I’ve been training Leslie for over 6 years and I can honestly say she is one of the most dedicated and passionate individuals I’ve ever worked with. Big things ahead for Leslie in this coming year as she’s been dominating a variety of high level NPC figure shows with many more victories and accomplishments to come in the next year. Congrats Leslie and keep it up.
In regards to this specific exercise there are several important cues in terms of proper execution.
1. If you use a load that’s 75% or less of you’re bodyweight you'll be able to perform a full ROM squat in a position that’s very similar to a goblet squat. In addition you’ll most likely be able to handle heavier loads than you would on traditional goblet squats as the position tends to feel more natural due to the more ideal hand placement. This allows the load to stay closer to the center of mass rather than in front. For instance in the above video Leslie is handling 95 pounds as well as an additional 30 pound chain on her neck (a total of 125 pounds). However she rarely goes over 85 pounds on traditional goblet squats.
2. If you decide or are capable of using a load that’s closer to your bodyweight and really overload the movement the mechanics will be altered slightly. As a result you won’t quite be performing a full squat but more like a ¾ squat stopping approximately 20 degrees above the optimal 90-degree position. In addition, performing these from a deadstop position will allow the lifter to set and reset their spine and shoulders which feels more natural once the load reaches closer to bodyweight. Here’s what that variation looks like
3. Regardless of the variation you chose you’ll need to keep the core and abdominals ridiculously tight and braced. Don’t let your spine move into excessive flexion or extension.
4. Although there will be a tendency to shift to the toes, focus on pressing through the heels and activating the larger muscles of the hips and glutes.
5. You have two options for the grip. You can either use the traditional standard handles and orientation of the trap bar or you can use the outside portion of the bar by performing them in a longitudinal fashion as shown by Leslie. Because the grip width is closer, most lifters will find the longitudinal version easier on the shoulder joints. However if you’re a taller lifter with long arms or simply looking to place greater tension on the upper back and shoulders the wider standard grip will do the job. In addition, the longitudinal protocol is significantly more unstable and requires much greater motor control, core strength, and overall stability.
Besides being one of the most brutal exercise variations you’ll ever perform this movement literally crushes just about every muscle in the body from head to toe. Simply put if you’re looking for a movement that taxes the quads, glutes and hamstrings, as well as the shoulders, upper back, triceps, biceps, grip, spinal stabilizers, and core, this one is tough to beat. Just be prepared to give some serious effort as you’ll need to produce some major intramuscular tension to successfully accomplish this lift.
Try performing several sets of 4-6 reps either during your next lower body workout or your next shoulder workout. These are also an incredible finishing exercise for torching your entire body and leaving you absolutely gassed at the end of your training sessions. To learn more about the longitudinal trap bar protocol click here.