Episode 33 – Squats for Watts: Are you squatting correctly for Cycling & Triathlon power? (Spoiler alert probably not)

The strong savvy cyclist & triathlete podcast



Human Vortex Training and Menachem Brodie present the Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast. Where we talk strength training, physiology, psychology, tech and much more to help you get fitter faster and stronger in and out of your sport. Giving you expert insights, talking with other leading experts. And now your host world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie.

Menachem Brodie:

Hey everyone and welcome to this episode of the Strong Savvy Cyclists & Triathletes Podcast. I am your host, Menachem Brodie, world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes. And today we are going to talk about the squat. We’re going to unlock your power in the squat and allow you to be able to see far better results and get what you actually need to out of your squat. Not to get better at strength in the weight room, but to allow you to see performance out on course, out on the bike, out on the road, whatever your sport may be.

But before we get into today’s episode, let’s cover a few basics. Number one is as we’ve grown over the last couple of decades really, really the last decade has been the pivotal one as cyclists and triathletes begin to recognize that strength training is important and it is a year-round endeavor. We still have a lot of hangups. There’s a lot of coaches and personal trainers and trainers out there who mean well, but they’ve never actually worked with cyclists and triathletes in or with a large understanding and skill and knowledge set for strength training. And that’s what we’re providing you here at Human Vortex Training.

It’s almost a quarter of a century of experience as a coach, working in the health and fitness industries, helping others from around the world. And we’re really helping you dial in and really separate the wheat from the chaff if you’ve ever done that. It’s a very interesting experience, but we’re teaching you how to use strength training as a cyclist or triathlete. Not as someone who wants general fitness and they get stronger in the gym. And that’s what the predominant amount of information out there is going to be telling you is just how to get generally strong.

Well, we don’t want to be generally strong. Yeah, everybody feels good to hit a PR in the weight room, but we don’t really care about that. We want to see performance out on the bike, out on our course, out on our run. So let’s get into today’s episode after a few very short housekeeping announcements. Number one, the beginning of 2020 means we are opening our Strength Training for Cycling Certification. It is going to be open for a five to seven-day period, and the seats are going to fill up fast.

We did a soft launch here just to the email list here at the end of 2019 with an overwhelming response. So as we open it up for the public, make sure you’re grabbing your spot because we’re not just opening it for anybody. We’re going to limit it to about 40 to 50 people, which will allow us to be to have a good solid interaction, allow you to ask questions, get timely responses and make sure you’re getting the most you can out of going through that course. And becoming smarter about how to strength train to get better results on the bike.

Now, this course is going to help triathletes. We do have one in the works for strength training for triathletes, but I don’t know when it will be done because it takes years to develop this. This course is over two years or almost two years rather of production itself, and over two years of planning. So hundreds of hours I’ve gone into producing this course and it is really one of the best out there for any strength training. That’s been the feedback from some of the people who’ve been through it as beta testers, as well as those who have gone through it already.

Number two, as you’re getting ready for your season, we are opening up more spots for our group strength training for cyclists and triathletes. So if you’re interested in that, head over to the Human Vortex Training website. You’ll find the link in the show notes down below or the show description. All right, that’s it for today for announcements. So let’s get into today’s show.

We’re going to talk about the squad. I’ve gotten around 15 or 16 separate emails from athletes as far as away as Bali, all the way up to Russia and as far in the states from California asking me, “Hey, I’ve been doing squats for a number of weeks or months now, and I’m just not seeing any response in my ability on the bike. And in fact, I’m starting to have these aches and pains in my back. Am I doing something wrong?”

So I can’t answer everybody individually. And this is a common problem actually. This is where I have the individual coaching is available for one-on-one. There is a three-month minimum on that because I need to get to know you, your body, your movements, and be able to progress you. So what we’re going to do is answer those individuals who are just looking to understand better what they need to do with their squats to get more out of their strength training for cycling.

So, number one, we’re going to have, if it hasn’t been released already, we have a video that we produced about squatting. We’ll look at a barbell back squat, a goblet squat with a pause at the bottom, as well as a safety bar squat. But that video will be released on the YouTube channel. So make sure you head over, like and subscribe to that channel because that’s completely different content than what you’re going to get here on the Strong Savvy Cyclists & Triathletes Podcast. But this is going to give you, that video will give you much more detail into what we’re going to talk about here and that is joint position dictates muscle function.

So for those of you who took the TrainingPeaks University courses Strength Training for Cycling Success or Strength Training for Triathlon success, this has been well-ingrained into your brain time and time again, but it really is true. When we go through our squats, it’s not simply going up and down, holding a bar on our back or holding a kettlebell or dumbbell at our chest and going through the goblet squat. Doing the motion itself is not necessarily going to make you stronger. It will get you a little bit more general better movement patterns, but again, we’re not in the weight room to just get generally stronger.

We’re here as cyclists, triathletes and runners, and we are looking for far better results from our strength training to allow us to see results in the sport. So what this means is that we need to take the level of our strength training up a little bit. We’re not just going to be looking at the weight on the bar and how many sets and repetitions we can do, or estimated percent of one rep max. And if you don’t know how I feel about someone telling you, “You need to test a one rep max,” go back and listen to a number of the previous podcasts from the end of 2019.

But what it comes down to is we don’t really care about the maximum weight we use, we don’t. What we do care about at least for the first year or two is getting you into better positions, teaching you to you use the right muscles at the right time with the right coordination to produce intra-abdominal pressure correctly to allow you to get movement from the glutes, as opposed to using a head throw as we’ll see in that YouTube video or any other type of adaptation in your body positioning because you don’t have that coordination or that intra-abdominal pressure to allow you to move properly.

What is intra-abdominal pressure you may be asking? Well, this is simply the ability of you to use air, to use the diaphragm of the pelvic floor correctly, keeping what’s called or what has now been called a canister position where those two, the pelvic floor and the diaphragm are aligned. So they’re not at an angle to one another, but stacked over one another. And you’re able to produce pressure there that will help stabilize your midsection and allow you to move better. Now, for those of you who have already signed up for the HV Training newsletter, maybe you’ve got the free opt-in gift of how to do better with your intervals, maybe not.

But if you’ve opted into that, the newsletter over on the Human Vortex Training website, you’ll have seen that we put a blog post up and a newsletter here in the middle of January of 2020 that we talk about how most people are doing their planks wrong. And a lot of people, I get so many direct messages on Facebook and on Instagram asking me, they’re saying, “Why am I not getting stronger? I’ve been doing planks for like three months. I can hold eight minutes, but my biking just isn’t getting better.”

Well, this ties into what we’re looking for out of our squats as well, just because you can hold something or a position. It’s not mean you’re getting the right movements from the right places. You’re not getting the right muscles to activate. In fact, most cyclists and triathletes are actually using their quadriceps as opposed to the transverse abdominis and the rectus abdominis, and the internal and external oblique and the quadratus lumborum to produce the stiffness that they need through the midsection. They’re just hanging on the quadriceps and maybe the six-pack muscle, the rectus abdominis, that’s it. And the lats.

These are muscles that are already short and tight. This is why it’s coming back around again, that stretching resolves back pain for cyclists. Well, that’s not true. Muscles get tight for a reason they’re overworked, overused or because the muscles on the other side of the joint are so loose and lax that something has to provide stability. We need to keep in mind that muscles have three jobs in this order in the body. Number one, job number one, this is what it’s going to sacrifice all else to do and that is to protect the joint from damage or injury. That is a muscles number one job as far as movement goes in the body. It is there to protect a joint from being injured.

So if we look at this from a hierarchy standpoint, your knee will be shut down in order to protect your hip. Why is that? Well without a knee, you can still use the big muscles at the upper leg to produce movement. So you can run away from the bear, the tiger, the lion, oh my whatever is that it’s chasing you. Whereas if we closed down the hip, you’re not going to be able to move as quickly and survival of the fittest. Well, you’re no longer the fittest or the one that’s able to run the furthest. So number one job of a muscle is to protect a joint.

Number two job is to stabilize a joint while an adjacent joint moves. What this means is that if we have instability, so a lot of the patients or I should say clients that I’m seeing that are coming to me for back pain are coming with muscles that have seized up. They’re not getting movement properly. People tell them, “Do yoga, do Pilates, do stretching.” And their pain gets far worse. Now this isn’t everybody, but this is the vast majority. People have come to me saying, “Oh, well I saw this cheap program and it was only a couple bucks a month. So I did it. It was stretching. I felt great for about a week and my pain’s gotten ever worse or worse ever since. And I can’t move anymore since doing that. So stretching’s destroyed me.”

No, the stretching didn’t destroy you. It’s that the stretching is not the right tool for you. And it’s not the right tool for a lot of cyclists and triathletes because the muscles get tight because they’re trying to protect the joint from injury, number one. Number two is they’re trying to stabilize a joint because the opposite side of the joint where another adjacent joint is incredibly lax or out of balance. So to stabilize the joint while an adjacent joint moves an example, a prime example for cyclist is the psoas and the iliacus. Two distinctly separate muscles. Do not call it the iliopsoas.

It is a completely separate innervation. It is a completely set of different muscles that happen to lay very close to one another at their insertion point because of their actions. The psoas serves as a stabilizer for the lower back. It allows us to move and it is actually tied into your breathing patterns because the psoas goes through the diaphragm. So just by going and using some of the breathing exercises and the breathing techniques that I program here for the Human Vortex individual clients who get personalized strength training programs, or those who are in the group programs, those breathing exercises when the athletes actually take the time and learn how to master them, have an incredibly powerful effect. Because people come back and say, “Hey, you know what? I finally took the time for that breathing exercise. And I feel like my hip flexors loosened up, what is it about the breathing?”

And then we get into this whole thing about the diaphragm and the psoas are tied together. Stretching your hip flexors and I’m very guilty of this. A number of years ago, you look, I was telling people to stretch, stretch your hip flexors. I was talking about the lunge reach twist stretch. Well, that is still applicable in some cases, but it depends. The vast majority of cyclists who come to me, what we’ll actually start doing is working on breathing patterns and activating the glutes. That we can and what we really at the same time, we’re working on building the ability to activate the abdominal hoop. So if you follow us on HV Training or @hvtraining on Instagram, you’ll see there’s a couple of posts about my six-minute warm-up from my core that I’ve always done through my injuries that brought me back from my hip and back injury, and that you can do as well.

But the important thing is how you execute the movement and where you get the movements from. And again, this is the biggest mistake we see across the board with most cyclists and triathletes is that you’re just flopping through the movements. It’s not going through the movements that’s going to get you better. It’s getting the movement from the right places that’s going to help you move better and be better. And how does this all get confused? Because most people when they think of muscles, they think of the third and final job of the muscles and that is to move a joint. We have two very, very integral, vital rules or jobs more clearly that the muscle are doing before, or they even think about moving a joint.

Number one is to protect a joint. So as cyclist, as triathletes in particular, we’re in a very closed off position. I mean, if you think about it, triathletes are essentially in that fetal position for long periods of time if you’re out on the Ironman or half Ironman course, right? I mean, that’s what it feels like. You get about halfway through the bike and you’re like, “Oh my goodness, what did I get myself into, right?” And this is where the mental component. We had a previous guest, Dr. Lisa Lewis, spoke extensively about the psychological preparation.

By the way, if you haven’t already gone over to her page, she is releasing a Psych Skills for Fitness Pros Course. So if you’re a coach, I strongly recommend you sign up for it. I had the privy to go through the course. It is fantastic. If you’re looking to take your level of knowledge and skills up as a coach to understand what your roles are and are not, I strongly recommend you take that course. It is well, well, well worth it. And you will become a much better coach. If you’re an athlete, take that course, because it’s going to allow you to get to know yourself better a lot, a lot, a lot better. And you’re going to get far more out of your own workouts.

I don’t get any money for this, by the way. I don’t have affiliate links or anything like that. This is just a great course where you’re going to get really good content and you’re going to get what you need to get better. So back on point here, as we talk about these movements in the squats, there are so many triathletes I think I mentioned 12 to 15 from Bali to Russia to California that have emailed me the last couple of weeks saying that they’ve been doing squats and planks. Those two don’t necessarily go together, but it has a couple of times. “I’m doing squats and deadlifts and planks, and I’m still not seeing results on the bike. And I’m actually getting aches and pains. And I’m following some workout that a well-recognized coach, cycling coach had put up that people said was good, but I’m just feel like I’m getting hurt and I’m not going anywhere.”

Well, this is true. And this is not a knock against these other coaches. Anybody who puts out a program, in my opinion, is doing so because they want to help you. They’re trying to share their knowledge and skillset and it’s not their fault that they don’t know what they don’t know. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I just sat here and told you that, “Hey, you know what? Five, eight years ago, I was telling you to stretch your hip flexors.” And now I know better because I’ve experienced myself and I experimented with a number of athletes letting them know, “Hey, we’re going to try something different. Instead of stretching, we’re going to get into your breathing patterns. We’re going to get you to fire up your glutes and we’re going to teach you how to properly use your core, which is far above and beyond.”

If you listen to our Stability Versus Balance Podcast, you understand that it’s far beyond these planking muscles. There’s so many more muscles that tie in and most of them are rotary stability muscles. They come at horizontal angles. They’re not running vertically. So we need to teach your core how to work properly. And this ties into the squat, just absolutely directly. I mean, it’s something that we really need to think about when it comes to working on the squat. So the first thing I’m going to tell you, those of you who have written me, if you are doing the squats right now and you are feeling crappy with them, you’re doing back squats with the barbell. Stop what you’re doing right now.

If you feel after about two weeks that you’re not getting better or if you’re having sharp pain, numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, you should stop immediately. At no point in time is having any type of these sensations okay nor is it good to push through. Sharpness, numbness, tingling, and loss of sensation or a burning sensation, you should stop what you’re doing immediately and seek out a highly qualified physical therapist or family doctor to assess you and make sure there isn’t anything majorly wrong. Don’t say, “Oh, well, I’ll wait until next week and see if it goes away.” Go see a professional.

Remember, we want you to stay consistent. We want you to train smarter, not harder. Now let’s say you stop your barbell back squats and your aches and pains go away within two to three days. What are we going to do? You’re saying, “Well, Coach Brodie, you told me to stop strength training. What am I supposed to do to get back to shape? I want to strength train.” Well, let’s start off with a basic goblet squat with a static hold at the bottom. Now this seems incredibly easy, but as you will find as you go through yourself for the first 10 to 15-second hold, it is incredibly challenging to hold that bottom position. And the bottom position does not, does not, does not, does not need to be 90 degrees at the knees. Okay? That is a fallacy. That is a bunch of BS.

That is somebody saying that, “Well, everybody fits in a box, you must be at 90 degrees and or below. The CrossFit will tell you that you have to go ass-to-grass or it doesn’t counts as a squat.” Everybody is different. And in fact, I wrote a very long blog post that actually got picked up by Tony Gentilcore’s site back in March of 2019 where talk about someone who was giving [inaudible 00:18:15] one of the best runners of possibly our lifetime, has a strength training routine, which is up and he wasn’t doing full squats. He was going quarter or half squats. And the person was saying, “Well, he’s not really doing strength training.” Well, actually he is because for his sport, that’s beyond the range of motion he needs. And that’s what we want to build up is the strength and stability for those postures and positions with good movement patterns and good muscle coordination and intra-coordination of the muscles, intra-abdominal pressure.

That’s all we need from our strength training. So the goblet squat with the static hold at the bottom of about 10 to 15 seconds, and you do not need much weight for this. So in the video we’re going to post or has already been posted on YouTube depending on when this episode goes up, you’ll see that the athlete is holding the bottom position and they’re just not moving. You’ll notice that they shift their knees forward a little bit, their hips forward a little bit on one of the repetitions, but their spine is staying perfectly upright. They’re not letting their back or rather their shoulders curve forward or be pulled down by the weight. Their back is straight, their hips. They do not get past 90 degrees for the first two repetitions.

The third one they’re around 90 degrees. The fourth one they get to 90 degrees. So these are things that you’re going to see, and these are normal, but what’s going to challenge you is holding that position. We need to teach you to master up position with good movement patterns. And this is where a lot of you are going to fail this exercise is you’re going to try and hold your breath for the whole time. That’s not a long-term success strategy because you can’t hold your breath out on the bike when you’re going to sprint. We all do it a little bit.

Anybody who has ever sprinted next to me knows that I go … and I hold my breath and it’s that … that’s how and how to produce the pressure. That’s how I learned to take what I’ve done from powerlifting. From the little bit of dabbling I’ve done in the clean, hang power clean to be exact, to be able to produce that force that I needed to be able to move myself on the bike and get all of that power down. I’m a big dude. I was racing at 88, 89 kilos. I am not small. So I need every ounce that I can get of power down so I can get my front end down into my wheel at a wedge, turn those glutes on and put all of that force down into the road not twisting my spine like a wringing out of a rag. It’s the same thing for you.

Hopefully a lot of you are not as heavy as I am. And a lot of you are more traditional cyclists. I’ve also had a lot of coaches and athletes be like, “You can’t tell me what to do for strength training, because you don’t look like a cyclist.” Okay, judge a book by its cover, but your loss. And then my athletes go out and crush those people. And that’s a little bit nice because then they’re like, “Well, what are you doing? Oh, I can’t work with him. He doesn’t look like a cyclist.” Just a little bit of a chip on the shoulder. But it’s just one of those things that that is one of the problems we have in fitness. It’s not just a cycling thing.

So same thing with squats. You come into a gym or you go to a coach who is not looking like a cyclist, or you go to a gym and you’re going to a trainer who looks like what you think you should look like if you’re lifting weights. That’s part of the problem. There is no one specific morphotype or body type that is going to succeed in cycling or triathlon. We have all different types of body types. Yes, we have very specific body types when it comes to specific types of sport within our sports. So if you look at the best enduro mountain bike riders, they have a specific body type.

You look at the best Grand Tour winners. They have a specific body type. None of them are the same. You look at the best climbers, they have a specific body type or they fit into a range. Yes, within our sport you’re going to have guys that and women who are tall and lanky and short, and able to climb like a rocket, but they can’t descend and they can’t do tempo. So these are all of the things you need to think about. And don’t just look at what the person looks like, but what skills and tools are they able to teach you? And today we’re talking about that goblet squat with that static hold.

Regardless of whether you’re tall or small. It does not matter. This is going to be extremely challenging. I’ve seen riders who are roughly 5’4″. So let’s say one point what? Five meters, 1.6 meters tall struggle with this. And I’ve seen riders who are 2.03 meters crush it. And I’ve also seen riders who were at 1.9 meters, or 6’5″ get crushed by it or crush it. It all depends on your ability to recruit the neuromuscular system. It’s a system to produce, that’s right, stability for each joint in that posture. That’s what it’s about, that’s what it’s all about, and that’s what we’re after for deadlifting. That’s what we’re after for squatting.

So don’t make the mistake of just grabbing your bar and throwing it on your back and saying, “Well, I’m doing squats because I’m a cyclist.” Well, there’s so many other considerations and we’re going to talk about those in part two about how that bar on your back is playing to your weaknesses usually as a cyclist, not to your strengths. So stay tuned here for our little break and we’ll come right back and we will share that information with you. Make sure you like and subscribe. Please share if you found any of this information to be useful. And we’ll see you on the other side of the break.


Want to learn more? Check out humanvortextraining.com for more on this topic from Coach Brodie and today’s guest.

Menachem Brodie:

Okay. So we’ve talked about how we don’t want to judge a book by its cover, how we really need to be very aware of what exactly we’re doing in the weight room. It’s just not a matter of dumping in and out of a movement. We’ve talked about not judging a coach or a trainer based upon what they look like or what their in sport results are. And we’ve talked about how the three major muscle jobs of the muscle, number one is to protect the joint. Number two is to stabilize a joint while an adjacent joint moves. And number three is to move a joint. And how many people make the mistake of just not even realizing or knowing really that the muscle has those two primary jobs before moving the joint.

We also talked about posture and the ability to produce intra-abdominal pressure, how your breathing patterns are going to affect how you’re able to move, as well as stretching is not necessarily and usually is not the resolution to your problems. No pun intended, but hey, we’re still pretty close to the new year so we’ll throw that word around before it falls out of favor at the end of the month.

Now, as we talked about the static goblet squats, all this is is holding a kettlebell, elbows are going to be tucked to your sides in front of you just a little bit. You’re going to hold the kettlebell or dumbbell about four to eight inches or 10 to 15 or 16 centimeters away from your chest. You’re going to sink straight down. Now, this straight down is very important because we’re trying to teach you to be an athlete in this position.

So there’s two different types of squats. One is a bodybuilding or powerlifting type of squat, where you’re sitting back, taking those hips back and keeping those shins almost vertical. That’s going to put a lot of shearing force into the knees. It’s going to put a lot more tension into the quadriceps and because of our sport is cycling, you’re already getting so much tension in through those quadriceps. We actually need to turn them down a little bit and teach your glutes and your hamstrings to be able to get you out of the bottom of the squat.

Now, as you do this, I find it most beneficial to have you with a bench or a box behind you where you’re learning to sit down and control that. What most people do is they just kind of stand up and then they plop down onto the seat behind them because they don’t have any control. They don’t have the ability to produce that tension or to maintain that posture as they get through the bottom. And they just collapse down, all of their joints just smashed together and then they stand up by rolling forward as you hear my voice come close to the microphone there, they roll forward. It’s not a squat. You’re using momentum to get this movement “movement done.”

And this is just robbing you of any type of benefits you’re going to get. And this is just the goblet squat. As I mentioned before we went to the break, I want to talk about the barbell back squat and how that’s doing a disservice and actually opening up and showcasing a number of your weaknesses because of the positions we’re in as cyclists and triathletes. Number one on our bikes, we are rounded forward most of the time with our upper back kind of rounded down a little bit, which compresses our diaphragm. It gets our pelvic floor and diaphragm out of alignment, which is a whole nother issue for a different podcast or a YouTube video.

But really what this does is it weakens our erector spinae. Erector spinae are just a group of muscles that are on either side of our spine and they help us stand up nice and tall. This is a major problem if you’re going to take a 45 pound bar or a 20 kilo barbell, put it on your back and then try and perform a squat. Well, correction. Most of you don’t have the range of motion to properly get what’s called thoracic extension. What this is is lifting your chest up towards the ceiling while keeping your midsection engaged and just moving the upper back into an extended position. Most of us don’t have that.

What we do is we throw our head up toward the ceiling, our Adam’s apple will poke out and we actually have this kyphotic or upper back curvature kind of like the Hunchback of Notre Dame is the best I can think of. And we put a bar on our back and we’re going up and down through this range of motion. Well, guess what that does to the discs of the back as well as to the tissues of the joints of the hips, the knees and everything else that’s going on in the body? We’re not able to deal with the forces that we’re producing or asking the body to demand it to perform under because we are not able to hold good postures.

Remember, a muscle’s number one job is to protect a joint. This means going through these positions, we are going to be forcing muscles to protect joints as opposed to stabilize them while other adjacent joint moves or to move the joint. So now we aren’t really getting stronger in the gym. We’re just reinforcing really bad movement patterns. And this is where we still have like the 12 to 15 emails the last couple of weeks here about squats and planks. People are getting bad movement patterns, getting aches and pains and blaming it on strength training.

“Well, I bought this strength training program for 15 bucks or this stretching program for 10 bucks a month. And I’ve just been getting worse since and I don’t understand it. Everybody says strength training is good for it.” You have to understand the role. You have to understand how things go. So instead of doing the barbell back squat, what I’d like for you to do is to go to the goblet squat with the pause at the bottom. We’ll start off at 10 to 15 seconds. Master whatever your lowest position is that you’re able to feel the tension in the glutes and the hamstrings, keeping your shoulder blades back and down. Not arching your lower back. Keeping your abs engaged and holding that position with good tension, not letting the knees cave in or fallout or letting the weight pull you forward.

This is going to be tough. A lot of you are going to start with eight pounds, pounds. So like three kilos and you’re going to find it very difficult. Some of you may not even get more than three or four inches “down” into a squat-like position. You’re barely getting into a little bit of a hinge pattern where the butts coming back and the knees coming forward two to four inches, six to eight centimeters, and that’s it. That’s all you’ve got. That’s where you start. It is about mastering positions, getting the right muscles to turn on, getting the right muscles, to turn off and creating that tension and strength throughout the body.

Now, how do we do this if we only have partial range of motion? This is going to be something where a lot of people will say, “Hey, just foam roll and you’ll get there.” Remember the rules, the order of the job of the muscles. Number one is to protect a joint. When you foam roll a muscle, you are effectively telling it to shut down. Now, that has a very big implication as to when and how you should foam roll. Now some strength coaches will not have you foam roll before a lift. Other coaches require you to foam roll before the lift. I tend to lean towards the cyclists are going to go through foam rolling their quadriceps. That’s right. Your quadriceps, they’re going to foam roll the AD adductors a very little bit with a medicine ball. They’re going to foam roll their lats. And they’re going to do some type of chest foam rolling. That’s right. You can foam roll your chest.

You can go over to the HV Training YouTube channel and find that video over there. But foam rolling small amounts, we’re talking 20 to 30 seconds maximum, two rounds each side and that’s it. And then we go from there into activation for the muscles that are or should be firing that are in opposition to the muscles that are overly used. So instead of firing up the quads by having to do squats, we might go to kettlebell swings if you’re advanced it’s enough. Or we might go to prong glute activation, or we might go to crocodile breathing, or we might go to one on deep squat breathing. These are all videos that you can find over on the HV Training YouTube channel. If you like and subscribe, you’ll get the notification when we upload new videos, which will be every Thursday this year in 2020. That’s what we’re aiming for. Most of them will be strength, training exercises, but others are going to be just general training.

So we had some here at the beginning of 2020 that’ll be released that are talking about functional threshold power and how and why we don’t use a 20-minute. But on point for our squats today, really what we’re looking for out of this is to master the neuromuscular connection from your brain to your muscles to master control over these positions. And it’s going to start with less than full range of motion and teaching you how to move well. That’s all we’re after. That is it. So grabbing a barbell, throwing it on your back and going through this is how you’re going to get hurt. And as we heard, Dr. McGill say, “A lot of cyclists don’t hurt their back on the bike, but it’s in the weight room because they’re picking up weights that are too heavy, that the tissues and the systems of the body are not ready to cope with.”

And a barbell on your back after being in that round position, unloading, very low loads actually on the erector spinae if not no loads, and you have very poor rotary stability and a very poor ability to produce intra-abdominal pressure and almost no, for many of you, recruitment of the glutes whatsoever. That’s a bad idea. So starting with these goblet squats, if you’re really feeling the goblet squats and let’s say you’ve progressed them for a couple of weeks, and now you’re four to six weeks in, you’ve mastered that end of your squat position. Which again, it does not need to be ass-to-grass. It does not need to be past 90 degrees. Whatever your end range of motion is and you’re feeling that what’s happening now is maybe you’re up to a 20 kilo kettlebell, which is about 50 pounds, or maybe you’re up to a 50 pound dumbbell. And you feel like your arms are the limiting factor for this squat.

You now have two options that you can move to. Number one is a cross grip box squat. So the cross grip is with a regular grip. This is going to be the barbell resting on the clavicle or the collarbone, on the shoulders on the front. So a lot of you, this is going to be challenging because you don’t have that range of motion. I do have a video up on Facebook right now going around of how to do the cross grip front box squat. So if you can’t do that because the bar is rolling forward, you can’t keep your upper torso or your thorax, the upper ribcage up where the bar isn’t rolling down. Well, guess what? We’re going to see if our gym has what’s called a safety squat bar. This looks like a yolk.

So it’s going to be the regular traditional barbell, but it’s going to have a yolk-like thing coming off of it. Usually there’s three pads, one for the upper back and one for either side that comes over the shoulders. And it’s not a straight bar. It actually comes out and kind of down two to four inches and out to the side. What this safety squat bar does, it allows you to load this squatting motion in a goblet style with more weight, because it changes how and where that weight is going to be centered around your center of gravity. This is a fantastic bar. There are a number of cyclists and triathletes I have right now around the world. One of them actually asked her gym to pick one up, to buy one, and they did. And she’s seen fantastic results since they did that.

Everything’s just gotten so much better because now instead of being limited to 16 kilos for her goblet squats, we’re now actually putting on around 60 kilos onto the bar. Now keep in mind, this is a change over about six and a half, seven months. So it’s not like we went from 16 kilos goblet squats to 60 kilos safety bar squats. It took time because it’s teaching you how to move, how to coordinate, how to produce that pressure, and how to progress through what you need to get out of the squat. Not just simply blindly going through a squat and doing a squat.

So we’re going to wrap up today’s episode here. We’ve covered a lot. A lot of you are going to have questions. To answer these questions, head over to YouTube, the HV Training YouTube channel, subscribe, hit the bell icon. And we’re going to have, I think it’s 10 or 12 or 14 minutes. I am going to break down these videos and allow you to see exactly what I’m talking about here on the podcast.

Now, some of you may be saying, “Well, Coach Brodie, I’m not really interested in YouTube. I’d rather listen to stuff.” In this case, I strongly encourage you to see these visual aids. It will really help you. Or if you’d like to get more out of your time, you can sign up for the wait list or try if it’s still open to get into the Strength Training for Cyclists Certification Course that we have. That’ll be open here the end of January 2020. If you miss the opening, because you’re listening to this later on, don’t worry it opens in the fall and it opens in the winter. So just twice a year we open that course on purpose. You can get onto the insiders list, which will save you some dinero as you sign up for that. And you’ll also be privy to the newsletter and also getting updates with videos, such as that which we are talking about today.

So to wrap up what we’ve talked about here is it is not going through a squat or deadlift or kettlebell swing, and just doing the movement that is going to get you better. It is understanding exactly what we want you to get out of the movement, which is neuromuscular connection, creating the ability of the job of the muscle to do its job more correctly. So to protect the joint, to stabilize a joint while an adjacent joint moves and to move a joint appropriately, because you’re using the right muscles at the right time with great breathing patterns and great postures to get you the movement that you’re after. That is how we build an athlete.

It’s not going to come from estimated one rep max or putting heavy weight on the bar, or just going through and saying, “Well, I’m doing this thing. It’s a program. It says three sets of 12. And I’m getting higher in weight so I must be doing it right.” No, that is not how you are going to get better as an athlete. Maybe you’ll get generally stronger, but even then the likelihood of doing something silly and getting hurt is going to be a lot higher than if you take the time to train smarter, not harder. And to be able to progress nice and consistently over time by unlocking your inner strength by allowing you to be able to do more with your strength that you’re getting from the weight room or with your weights at home or resistance training at home out on the bike.

So if you enjoyed this podcast and feel it was valuable in teaching you about strength training for cycling or triathlon and teaching you how to get or teaching you what you need to get out of your squats, your deadlifts, your hinges, whatever it is you’re doing, hit the like button. Please share the video with your friends and coaches. And if you’d like to have more training content like this, subscribe to the Strong Savvy Cyclists & Triathletes Podcast channel. Leave us a five-star review on Apple, on Stitcher, on SoundCloud, wherever you are. Even if it’s just two or three words, it really helps us be able to get to more people.

And don’t forget to head over to the Human Vortex Training website to sign up for our newsletter, to sign up for your free gift about intervals are going to help you get far more out of your intervals. And also like we talked about today, the YouTube channel where we’re going to have visual, which will help you be able to get more out of what you’ve listened to here on the Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast.

So that’s it for today. Make sure you like, subscribe and share. Thank you for listening. And remember until next time, train smarter, not harder because it is all about you.


That’s it for this episode of the Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast with world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie. Don’t miss an episode. Hit that subscribe button and give us a review. For more exclusive content, visit humantraining.com or get the latest expert videos from Coach Brodie on the HVT YouTube channel at HV Training. Until next time, remember to train smarter, not harder because it is all about you.


Picture of Menachem Brodie

Menachem Brodie

Coaching since 2000, Menachem Brodie has been working with athletes in a number of settings, and a broad variety of sports.


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