Monday, November 8, 2010

Squats and deadlifts.....

Further to the deadlift video that I posted the other day, I spotted an interesting post from Don of Primal Wisdom.

He talks about the squat vs the deadlift in terms of primal / evolutionary movements and refers to   those who think squats are not "evolutionary," but think deadlifts are.

He points to Evolution and Training: An Interview with Dr. William Meller 

S: I know when we talked before you said that a heavy deadlift isn’t the most natural thing – picking up something heavy from the ground – but you said that squatting was very natural for us.


M: Well, look at the size of the various muscles in our bodies, and what’s the biggest muscle? Your quads, your anterior thigh, right? There is a reason for that. It has to do with standing up and jumping, lifting and climbing up rather than bending over from the waist. Before we were upright, two-legged walking primates, we were four-limbed primates and we did a lot of climbing. We probably didn’t stand up at first to walk on the ground; we really stood up so we could reach a higher branch and keep climbing and pull ourselves up to the next branch using our biceps and upper-body strength. In climbing trees, there’s a lot of squatting and pushing up just using your legs, using your arms for balance and gripping and pulling. By doing that, we developed a more upright posture, so that when we did get down on the ground, we were able to walk and then even run, which turned out to be a huge advantage.

Read the rest - it is interesting.

About 2 years ago I mentioned the "Third Wolrd Squat"

You'll notice that in third-world countries, there will be a lot of situations where people are hanging out or working, and rather than sitting or kneeling down, they squat. They can sit like this comfortably for hours. It seems like a simple thing and can be easily overlooked, but try it some time. The average North American adult can't even get into this position, let alone stay there for any length of time.

I've also pointed to material on deadlift form and Gray Cook's instruction to maintain the squat but train the deadlift.

Anyway, an interesting debate.

12 comments:

john said...

Note that a bodyweight [full] squat is different from weight training squat in that it's normal to allow the back to round with no barbell. In a barbell squat, to keep the back arched, hip (mostly adductor) and ankle mobility become important, and this puts ends up giving the quads more emphasis than in bodyweight squat because the ankles must flex proportionally more than the hips.

Espiritu Arete said...

This is a great post. Wow, coming from the city of vegetarians and vegans I can't thank you enough for putting together so many loose ends for me. Wow! I literally tell everyone I know to do the 'hunker down' and 'body weight squats' and they always look at me crazy, or askance as if I am keeping my fitness secrets hidden.

Jamie Scott said...

I'm not convinced on the argument regarding the quads being a bigger muscle, therefore the squat is the better of the two. By cross-sectional area, tendon type, line of pull, length of muscle, the glutes(in combination) are likely to be stronger... though it is a moot point. Both the squat AND deadlift are important 'primal' moves for humans and both should be trained - emphasis or de-emphasis based on indiviudal parameters.

Chris said...

As I said, an interesting debate. I actually think that Don's source is wrong on this one. Squatting as a movement pattern: fine - it is to be maintained and developed. However we lift things by deadlifting. It is as Gray Cook demonstrates in that video - we might squat to investigate but to lift we pull things in and bend over with a hip hinge.

pieter d said...

I agree that the argument of the quadriceps as bulkiest muscle is rather weak. Strength/power output is the product of muscle cross sectional area and the biomechanics (leverage).

I had to check with google, but world records of squats and powerlifts are about the same poundage, so even though the hamstrings are not as bulky, they (together with the rest of the posterior chain), deliver as much output as the quads.

Natural selection works on function.

pieter d said...

sorry, I meant squats and deadlifts...

jon w said...

something I've been wondering about for awhile... how to recover the ability to "hang out" in a relaxed squat position? feet close together, toes pointed nearly forward, just squat back on the heels without discomfort? old people in thailand can do it, my kids can do it, but for me to get down in a squat I have to spread my legs to shoulder width or more and point my toes out - even then I lose circulation after 5 minutes...

Glenn said...

I agree that Don is off-base this time. The notion that quads are bigger and more "fundamental" than glutes (aside from questionable in its own right) also implies that knee extension is more fundamental than hip extension... which I think is a very dubious claim. Not only are the hips more central to all compound motion, but they are largest bony mass in the body and much stronger than the knees.

Emily said...

This is very intersting article on the video you posted. Thanks for sharing your outlook. For a great ab workout, check out the AbStand machine! http://www.abstand.net

Drew said...

dude, I invented the dead-squat, that shit is mad primal. suck on that third world!! LOL

DREW
http://invincibleforce.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Well, I do my deadlifts off a four inch platform and with a wide, snatch, grip. This allows me to start the lift with high hips, and a horisontal back, just like my instinct tells me to lift. And I still have to use my quads since I have to "squat" down to the bar. My knee angle is almost 90 degrees even when my hips are high and I start the lift.
My guess is that my lifting position is exactly how it would be if I was lifting a heavy rock, with my hands touching the ground.
Then I try to move the weight slowly, just like Pavel says...

Daniel said...

@jon w, check out Kelly Starrett's mobility WODs (mobilitywod.blogspot.com)