Sunday, February 08, 2009

Nick Nilsson - MAX Range Dumbell Squats

I've been doing this exercise for a long time, but never really knew it had a name other than calling it "those damned hard dumbbell squats." Nick Nilsson, over at Staley Training Systems, spells out how to them correctly and offers a video.
Nick Nilsson - MAX Range Dumbell Squats

Let me just start by saying when I say MAX range, I mean MAXIMUM range! With this exercise, you are going to be using a bench and dumbells to achieve a range of motion in the squat far greater than what you normally would use.

Keeping that in mind, if your knees give you trouble on a full squat, this might be a good one to skip. For healthy knees, it's totally fine and can even help strengthen them in that extreme range of motion. Full squats are NOT bad for the knees. But because the range of motion is so great, it does put more tension on the area and it's something to be aware of.

That being said, your quads are in for a trashing!

First, you need to get a couple of moderate-weight dumbells and a flat bench. Nothing too extreme about the equipment. Start lighter than you think you'll need to.

Pick up both dumbells and walk over to your bench. To do this exercise, you're basically going to stand on the flat bench and do a dumbell squat. But because you're standing on a bench, you can squat down VERY far without the dumbells hitting the ground. In fact, you will bring them several inches below the level of the bench at the bottom of the squat!

This will allow you to achieve that maximum range of motion I was talking about.

So walk up to your bench, set one dumbell on the bench (still gripping it) then step up onto the bench, holding the other dumbell. Keeping that one dumbell on the bench is easier than trying to do a step up with both dumbells. Save the work for the exercise itself.

Once you've got both feet on the bench, stand up and get yourself ready - top position of the squat.

Now start squatting down, keeping the dumbells at your side. The picture below shows you about how far down you can get with a normal dumbell squat - this is the point where the floor would normally stop the dumbells.

But for THIS exercise, you're going to going until you're down in a full crouch - glutes to heels, as far down as you can possibly go. Let the dumbells pull down into that deep bottom position.

Note in the picture above that I've brought the dumbells a litle forward rather than letting them hang straight down. By bringing them forward, you keep better balance on the bench. If they're hanging straight down, you'll tend to lose balance backwards.

CRITICAL: at the bottom, do not lose tension in your quads. Keep those muscles tight! We want to keep the tension on the muscles and not have it go to the knee joints.

When you're in this very bottom position, you can let your shoulders hunch forward over your knees, as you move the dumbells forward. Since you're not using extremely heavy weights, it's not going to injure you.

Now, using muscle power only, squat back up! DO NOT bounce out of this bottom position.

Like I said above, use a lighter weight than you think you'll need the first time you do this one. It'll really show you what full range of motion is all about!

This type of squat is a great option if you're training at a gym (or at home) where you're limited to lighter dumbells. You can great some great training for the entire lower body by extending the range of motion to the extreme bottom position.

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