The assisted squat is one of the best ways to help beginners ease into the squat movement pattern. Using it correctly will allow you to create the building blocks of a great squat movement pattern.
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The assisted squat is simply when you perform a squat with some form of assistance, this is usually in the form of a TRX, gymnastic rings or squat rack. These allow an individual to put their bodyweight into an external point meaning less load goes towards their lower body, resulting in less force production being required.
For some beginners, especially elderly individuals, obese individuals or those who have either been extremely sedentary for long periods of time or are recovering from a serious injury the assisted squat can be an extremely beneficial exercise to ease back into the squatting movement pattern.
When performing an assisted squat, the amount of force required to lift your bodyweight is substantially reduced due to the use of the upper body. This opens the squatting pattern up to individuals who may not have enough strength to perform a traditional air squat .
The assisted squat is also very beneficial to those who are looking to gain mobility, particularly those who have very restricted mobility. Gaining mobility in a movement pattern can often be done by performing that movement pattern progressively over time (1), as we squat more and more often, we gain mobility in the squat movement pattern. If we lack the strength to perform a squat, then using an assisted squat will allow us to make significant gains in squat mobility whilst simultaneously increasing the strength in our lower bodies.
Complete 3 rounds
This circuit will achieve three primary objectives
My personal preference for an assisted squat is the TRX or rings, as the rack can make manoeuvring much more challenging as you end up so close to the rack. Whereas with the TRX or rings the difficulty can be easily modulated and you have plenty of space, you can swap between using two hands to one, you can release the tension meaning assistance can be used just at the bottom of the repetition to make the exercise progressively more difficult.
It is important to not spend too long working on the assisted squat, obviously progressing past the assisted squat will take as long as it takes. When you or your client have reached the point where you have mastered the assisted squat you will need to progress the exercise to a more challenging one. I recommend using bodyweight box squat , this will allow the exercises to be performed through a shortened range of motion, making it more manageable, but still far more challenging than the assisted squat. Slowly but surly you can lengthen this range of motion until you or your client are capable of performing a full air squat. Once here we can start thinking about adding some external load.
For some extreme cases the assisted squat can be a little to challenging, when we see a mixture of weakness in both the upper-body and lower body, moving the load from the upper body to the lower body is of little use. This is a situation where using weight machines will be highly beneficial , allowing a client to gain strength and muscle mass in a very controlled position, adding very small amounts of load over time.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.