The Squat

Obstacle Race Magazine Interview with Michael Cohen
Obstacle Race Magazine

The Squat

by Michael Cohen

Issue 1
February 2014

Squatting is one of the most fundamental movements that is so understated in training. In the case of obstacle racing, squatting will affect your range of movement, strength, power and output.

Poor squatting technique will affect your running, jumping, landing, climbing, crawling, leaping and most built obstacles. If you are a runner then the likelihood is that you have extremely tight hamstrings. I know myself how tight and restrictive they used to be.

squat techniqueSelf-test

1. Stand up eyes forward.
2. Look down at your feet. Are they underneath your hips? Do your feet turn in or out? Do your knees lean in or bow out?
3. Start to squat as low as feels comfortable. How straight and upright was your back? Is it painful? Are you balanced? Can you heels go all the way to the ground? Did your knees turn in or out? Were your knees wobbly?
4. Slowly in a controlled fashion stand up.

Phew, I am sure that a few of you are pleased that is over!

How to Squat

1. Stand with your eyes looking forward.
2. Imagine you have a piece of string attached to the crown of your head connected to the ceiling, cloud or tree top above you. Allow the string to lengthen your vertebrae so you now feel tall. Relax your shoulders, arms, hands and fingers and let them hang long.
3. Check you feet. If the are turning inwards or outward do not adjust your feet. Instead from the muscle in your groin adjust the leg rather than turn the foot. This technique will start to build memories in the muscles to gradually ra-lign your legs with your upper body.
4. Nearly ready to squat.
5. Take a breathe and keep relaxed.
6. Looking forward slowly allow the knees to bend. Keep looking forward. Keep your back upright and as straight as you can.
7. Don’t let your knees wobble or turn in or out. Feel solid, balanced and in control.
8. As you lower allow your arms and head to come forward to counter balance your body’s General Centre of Mass (GCM).
9. And down we go. Only go as far as you feel comfortable.
10. How upright do you feel? How close are your heels to the ground? Is it comfortable? How relaxed are you?
11. This is just the start to a proper squat.


[Make sure your back is as straight as possible on the way down and back up. Just imagine you are sitting into a low chair. The hip bend should be resisted as much as possible.]

1. Try hard but don’t try too hard so that you injure, strain or get frustrated.
2. Breathe and relax.
3. However far you can correctly squat down to is fine. Each day you practice your technique will improve.
4. Practice with a friend by asking them to stand facing you holding your hands as you lower. This will help you to keep your balance.
5. Alternatively hold onto something secure in front of you as you lower down. Or stand away 1 ½ to 2 ft from a wall with your back to it and slowly slide don it.


1. Good squatting will improve your running, jumping, landing, climbing, crawling, leaping and your ability to effectively complete most built obstacles.
2. Stretch your hamstrings, calves, quads and shin muscles.
3. Improve your range of movement in your ankles.
4. Improve your balance and your proprioception i.e. your perception of the relationship and connectivity of your body parts
5. Increase your awareness of your body’s GCM.
6. Re-align your legs and upper body.
7. Stabilise your knees.
8. Learn to use your body in a controlled and flowing movement.

Click here to watch a video with the full technique.

Please comment or ask a question below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s