#339 – Rethinking Hip Drive: Fixing the Dreaded Good Morning Squat

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Recently Matt and Niki have been dealing with a prominent issue among their late intermediate and advanced lifters (some of them very strong too!). These lifters will descend beautifully into the hole on a squat, then while driving up allow their knees to shoot back, causing their hip angle to close and their backs to become more horizontal as more of their body mass travels behind the midline. This is a phenomenon they have experienced primarily with more experienced lifters, who perhaps have internalized the chest down/lean over/hips back/hip drive cues TOO well.

 

While the concept of hip drive is important for a novice lifter to understand and practice, it is really a sort of over-cue, an exaggeration of what happens in a proper squat during the concentric, or ascent. Novice lifters commonly struggle with staying too vertical in the squat, or lifting their chest (and thus becoming more vertical) during the drive up, so the hip drive cue is useful in teaching them to assume and hold a more horizontal back angle than they are used to during the movement.

 

However, as a lifter progresses and even becomes quite strong, it’s common to see new problems emerge, such as knee slide, knees shooting back during the ascent (as described above), and knee valgus. Knees shooting back indicate that the knees are extending without causing the bar to move, and Matt theorizes that it results from a misunderstanding of hip drive. What we want when a lifter drives up out of the bottom is for the bar to start moving immediately, without a change in back angle. This can only happen if the knees extend first, because if the hips extend first, then the back angle will immediately become more horizontal. So, lifters struggling with this problem, or it’s sister problems — knee valgus and slide — need to focus on cues that get them to extend their knees first out of the bottom.

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