Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Tommy Kono Bodyweight Squat

Squats are one of the best whole-body exercises you can perform, with or without weights. It's one of the most widely discussed exercises in articles written by the "experts" from all fitness disciplines. Everyone has his or her opinion about squats.

There are those who swear that squats are better than homemade apple pie for fitness and strength. Then there are those who warn that they are dangerous and will wreck havoc on your knees and spine and, therefore, should be avoided. I've been in both camps at one time or another in my fitness journey. Currently I swear that squats are better than homemade apple pie for fitness and strength, but only if your body is flexible to safely perform them with correct form.

I'll not discuss the various ways in which you can perform squats or suggest a squat workout. Instead, I'll describe and demonstrate an exercise I learned from Olympic weightlifting legend Tommy Kono to improve my flexibility to safely perform Olympic style squats. I call it the Tommy Kono bodyweight squat.

Here's how you do it

Stand with the center of your back slightly touching the corner of a wall, feet spaced as you normally would to perform a squat. The back of your head, most of your back and your glutes should be touching the wall corner. Keep a strong lower back arch and expand your chest to set yourself in a very upright starting position. In this position, the area of your arched lower back is not touching the wall corner.

Now perform a squat descending as low as you can while maintaining contact with the wall corner. You can pause at the bottom to check your form and contact. Rise back to the starting position to complete one repetition. Perform additional repetitions only as long as you are able to maintain good form. It's a very challenging exercise for me and exposes my flexibility weaknesses.

Here's a short video demonstration of the exercise

You'll notice I fail to keep my head touching the wall corner as I rise from the bottom position. Some days are better than others and this obviously was not one of my better days.

Give this exercise a try and let me know what you think. I guarantee it will improve your whole body flexibility and squat performance. Have fun doing the Tommy Kono Bodyweight Squat.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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