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After yesterday’s post I was swarmed with awesome questions and responses. I honestly didn’t think many people would care about glute activation. The majority of the questions fit into two categories. Firstly, everyone wanted a little better description of a “Bottom to Bottom FS’ and what they should focus on when completing the movement. Second, I got some great questions about the difference in torso angle and bottom position based on torso length vs leg length.
Here is a demo video for a Bottom to Bottom FS. I explain in the video the basic concepts and what to consider when performing this movement. You can use this movement in two different ways. It can be a warmup exercise with just the barbell or very light weight. Also, it can be used as a positioning and strength exercise. In that case I would encourage 5-6 sets of 3-5 reps. The loading on this exercise will have to be light because of the pause in the bottom thus limiting the loading on the quads. However, the focus on glute activation will provide a different type of stimulus and hopefully a lot of work for the gluts.
Bottom to Bottom Front Squat
Many of you asked how the length of the torso compared to a long femur or tibia would impact one’s ability to activate their glutes and remain vertical. The sad reality is that long torsos and short legs create a HUGE biomechanics advantage for a weightlifter. Whereas, a short torso and long legs create a disadvantage. The torso length is the leverage for bar speed. I talked about that in my post on Mechanical Advantage. However,conversely long legs create a greater need for flexible ankles and an even greater need for mobile hip flexors. In order to achieve a perfect bottom position and maintain that perfect torso angle throughout the stand up, a lifter with long legs must have great ankle dorsiflexion to allow the knees to get out over the toes. This flexibility allows the hips to push underneath the shoulders for a vertical torso. Notice the difference in shin angle because of ankle flexibility in the picture below.
Poor Ankle Dorsiflexion
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Good Ankle Dorsiflexion
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Basically it is impossible to use your glutes to help you maintain a vertical torso if your ankles will not allow your glutes to sit underneath your shoulders. Glute activation is important and pivotal for Olympic weightlifting. However, it is going to be limited by your ability to get your knees forward and your hips wedged between your heels.
Here is one of the many good mobility WODs out there for ankle mobility by K-Starr: Ankle Mobility
Also, if you are in Dallas you need to check out Landan Webster for glute activation issues. The dude knows all there is to know about the glute and how to make it work properly.