Squatting and Ankle Dorsiflexion

Squatting and Ankle Dorsiflexion

Do you have trouble reaching parallel or lower when squatting? Maybe you find your trunk leaning forward the deeper you descend into your squat. Your ankle mobility may be the reason, or perhaps the weight is a little too heavy, but that’s a topic for another time. 

Ankle dorsiflexion during squatting is how your knee can go over your toes. A quick test you can do to assess your ankle dorsiflexion is to place your foot 5 inches from the wall in a half-kneeling position. If you can touch your knee to the wall, you should have sufficient mobility to hit depth in your squat.

If your knee does not touch the wall, you may want to consider adding some ankle mobility work to your warm-ups or using a heel lift when you squat. Adding a heel lift from .5 inches to 1 inch (using small plates or lifting shoes) decreases the amount of motion needed in the ankles, allowing you to reach a lower depth with less compensation in the hips and back.

The pictures below demonstrate a squat without a heel lift and with one. As you can see, the knees can travel over the toes more, and the trunk is more upright with a heel lift.

An easy mobility exercise to do before you squat is a weighted dorsiflexion hold: Start in the half-kneeling position and place a 20 to 35lb weight on the top of your knee. Then move your knee as far over your toe as you can without letting your ankle lift off the ground; hold for one to two minutes. You should feel a stretch in your ankle and calf.

Give these a try and see how they feel. If you are having trouble or are unsure of your squat form, be sure to contact any of our trainers!

A Guide to Weight Training for Beginners

A Guide to Weight Training for Beginners

If you’re someone who is eager to start building muscle, increasing strength, and improving overall fitness, you’re likely to consider getting your first-ever gym membership. While it can certainly feel intimidating as a beginner, going to the gym isn’t all that scary; especially when the gym is comprised of a community of like-minded individuals. 

Luckily, that’s what you get when you sign up as a member of Kaua’i Athletic Club here in Kauai, Hawaii! 

Nevertheless, the hesitation to embark on your fitness journey is understandable and completely normal. After all, as a complete beginner to the weight room, you’re likely unsure of where to start! It can be overwhelming, there’s no doubt about it…

With that being said, have no fear. In what follows, we’ll be discussing how YOU can begin your fitness journey with confidence. Just remember, you’re a beginner so you’re not expected to know what you’re doing. That’s what we here at Kaua’i Athletic Club are here for.

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll walk away a more prepared gym-goer, ready to tackle all of your health and fitness goals! So, where do you start?!

Let’s get into it!

 

Where to begin

As a novice to weight lifting and the gym in general for that matter, you’ll be happy to hear that Increasing strength and building muscle are typically quite easy for beginners. In fact, most can expect to see noticeable improvements within eight short weeks of committed and consistent exercise.

With that being said, the primary concern for beginners shouldn’t be performance or results but rather safety and correct execution of movement. 

Once you learn the basics, devise a plan, and begin to execute it efficiently and effectively, Your only concern should be commitment, discipline, and consistency. By doing so, you set yourself up not only for short-term success but longevity both inside and outside of the gym.

 

Let’s get on the fast track to building muscle and strength! Below are five (5) beginner tips for strength training:

  1. Begin With Just Your Bodyweight
  2. Start Slow & Focus on Frequency Rather than Intensity
  3. Don’t Ignore the Warmup!
  4. Rest & Recover
  5. Make Proper Form a Priority 

Following these tips will ensure that you begin on the right foot. Building bad habits, on the other hand (executing a lift poorly, for example) will only result in poor results, and ultimately injury. 

 

Begin with just your bodyweight

It can be tempting to immediately begin lifting substantial weights. Not only will you be subconsciously encouraged by those around you who are doing so, but you also know that lifting weights is what you’re there to do, right?! Wrong…

While the ultimate goal is, of course, to lift weights and progressively build upon those weights to build muscle & strength, it’s not what you’re initially there to do as a beginner. 

Sure, building muscle and increasing strength requires a certain level of resistance and intensity, however, this can be achieved by simply utilizing your own body weight; as a beginner, especially! Moreover, utilizing your body weight is the safest and most effective way to learn proper form while also training your musculature to carry load. 

After all, weight training, or strength training, simply requires resistance. While this can certainly be accomplished from weights themselves, it can also be accomplished through resistance bands and even your own bodyweight, especially starting out!

Once you’re prepared and ready to begin challenging yourself, start introducing weights and resistance bands. This is what is known in the fitness world as “progressive overload”; the process of adding difficulty to your exercise over the course of days, weeks, and months, accomplished in a multitude of ways (more sets, reps, weight, time-under-tension, etc).

 

Start slow & focus on frequency rather than intensity

This tip is widely related to the previous tip about beginning with just your body weight. Not only does it allow you to stay safe while also achieving an effective workout, but it also allows for a smooth progression of improvements rather than a fast track to injury.

The recommendation for beginners is to simply begin with training two to three times per week, or 150 minutes/week, 75 of those minutes being moderate to high-intensity effort. This will allow efficient bodily adaption to new stimuli. The ultimate goal is to work up to 5-6 days per week of vigorous activity. 

In short, a variation in frequency and intensity is key. As you become comfortable with form and technique, and as you become comfortable with being uncomfortable under intensity, training volume can begin to increase. Until then, ease into it…

 

Don’t ignore the warmup

Warming up is an integral part of any effective training program. While there are a number of ways that one can prep their body for action, a simple 5-10 minute dynamic warm-up is the best place to start!

Warming up not only increases internal body temperature (an effective method for improving performance and reducing injury), but it also increases range of motion and allows for proper motor/muscle recruitment during the workout. 

While we could get into the detailed science behind warming up, the key takeaway here is to simply warm-up. Sure, it’s tedious, boring, and monotonous, however, so is sitting on the couch after an injury. Choose your poison!

 

Rest & recover

Arguably the most important part of any workout program or exercise regimen is rest and recovery. While it may sound counterintuitive, the research is undeniable. 

Rest and recovery includes stretching and cooling down post-workout, taking necessary rest days, getting a sufficient amount of sleep daily (7-9 hours), and taking care of your body at all times.

While many tend to ignore it, recovery is the single most important aspect of any training program whether you’re a complete beginner or an elite athlete. Not only does it help you prepare for your next workout, but it helps prevent injury, improves overall well-being, and improves performance over time, among other incredible benefits. 

While recovery can involve a multitude of comprehensive strategies and tactics, as a beginner, simply learn to listen to your body.

 

Make proper form a priority

When you do decide to engage in a weight training program, focusing on form and controlling the weight will be the key to success and longevity. While the primary intention of proper form and technique is to ensure safety and injury prevention, it also directly correlates to performance, aesthetics, and overall results.

In summary, while these tips are generally given to beginners, they carry over to all groups of athletes and gym-goers alike. Everyone starts somewhere, and if you’re going to start, you should want to get it right the first time!

 

A final word of advice

If you can take away and implement some of these tips immediately, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an all-around fitness enthusiast, and ultimately – an athlete! As a recap, always remember to go at your own pace, engage in proper form, and do everything you can to remain happy and healthy.

If you’re looking to join a gym but still have apprehension about taking the first step, consider Kilauea Phys Ed here in Kauai, HI. Offering 5,500 square feet of space, we offer top-of-the-line cardio equipment, strength equipment, and functional fitness equipment. 

More importantly, however, we service a small and tight-knit community of like-minded individuals eager to continue on their path of health & fitness. So, if you’re in the area, be sure to check us out. We can’t wait to meet you!