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Big Picture Training

On Monday I posted about a little known exercise known as the Kettlebell Hack Squat. This lead to a bit of a discussion on the value of the lift, one question in particular was:

“Are they superior to ordinary barbell squats?” Naturally I answered a question with a question:

“Superior in what respect?”

I had a fair idea where this was going, as I’d covered the advantages to the lift in the article. The answer came back,

“Hypertrophy? Strength gains? Depth of squat? In other words would I be better off switching to these instead of classic barbell squats?”

Ahhhhh, I see!

So what we have hear is a case of “pigeon holitis.” Everything must be ticked off and placed into neat little pigeon holes.

It’s an increasingly common occurrence.

As more information is more readily available, people are looking too much into the minutia, they’re focussing on details. STOPPIT and instead look at the bigger picture!

Earlier this week I was trying to explain what it is I do here at Wild Geese because the woman who asked the question kept interrupting, saying things like: “so it’s core?, no is it Aerobics?, oh, wait, you mean like pump?”


And that means doing whatever it takes with whatever kit is necessary to take you from your current state of being into a state of awesomeness.

It may mean the power lifts, it could be metabolic work, possibly bodyweight only, maybe a combination of all of them……

…..whatever it takes. Like most things in life, training is not black and white.

I often use a car analogy to elaborate on this: If I said to you that you can drive away right now in either a brand new Aston Martin DB9 or a second hand Land Rover Defender, you’d probably jump at the aston, right?

Aston Martin DB9

Ok, but what if I said that the only road back to where you had come from was flooded and you’d have to drive across country. The Aston aint looking so good now is it? The Land Rover would be a better choice.

See? Bigger picture.

And that is my point about exercise styles, modalities and tools. It’s not about what’s best, what’s shiny or what Joe Smith down the road is doing. It’s about what is the best fit for you right now. It’s about the right tool, for the right person at the right time.

If I post about an exercise like the Kettlebell Hack squat I am NOT saying drop everything and only do this. If that were the case, each article I wrote would have you flip flopping around from one modality to another. Nonsense! I’ve written extensively about various kettlebell exercises, about bodyweight exercises, I’ve talked about sandbags. I’ve discussed the pro’s and cons of a back squat vs. a front squat. I’ve linked to and referred back to umpteen articles from other coaches giving their versions of what’s right or wrong. All this is in the hope that you, the reader, may have some of your questions answered. Or better yet, have you start looking at your own training with a little more objectivity.

Back to the specifics of the Hack Squat, the guy asking had a pretty broad scope of questions, here’s what I told him:

“Hypertrophy of the quadriceps, probably. Strength Gains, no, only the deadlift rivals the squat in that department Depth of squat, possibly as you’ll potentially have more strength at the bottom position Would you be better dropping the squat all together? Not unless you have a good reason to. I have to be very careful with any heavy load on the spine due to old injuries. I cannot back squat only front squat. If you are squatting have these as a secondary exercise, maybe something like:

1: Squats 3-5 x 3-5 2A: KB Hack Squat x 6-8 x 3 3B: Glute Bridge x 6-8 x 3 3: Walking Lunges x 50meters.”

This is in fact a leg workout I use myself. Hit the big lift first then round it out with assistance work, of which the Hack Squat is ideally suited. I also use the hack squat to balance out Swings and Snatches. You may not want to or have to.

Look at the big picture and make informed choices in your training.



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