Coiling the Spring

Readers, I love a good coaching cue. There is something poetic in being able to condense a mechanical goal into a few tangible words. Last summer, Gray Cook uploaded a video about how to choose between the squat or the deadlift as a training tool (and whether you should choose based on your movement ability). One of the concepts that came up which really intrigued me was “coiling the spring”. (I’m going to talk about this in the context of the squat, but keep the deadlift setup in mind as we go forward.)

The idea with this coaching cue is that as you descend in a squat (or when you’re setting up for your deadlift), you envision your body as a spring being compressed. This creates a lot of focus on how you’re performing that eccentric portion of the movement. It’s not just about lowering down, but chambering energy in the hips, knees, and ankles. For me, this cue has done wonders to tighten up the bottom position of my squat by helping me load the hips and keep my spine braced. The goal of coiling the spring may seem obvious, but don’t underestimate its usefulness until you try it. After all, that’s the whole point of a good coaching cue, right? It is an elegant phrase that converts the desired mechanics into a single thought, a single feeling.

This cue strikes me as useful outside of the squat and deadlift as well. There is obvious transfer to any movement that falls into one of those categories and has similar mechanics, like jumping or kettlebell swings; but it could also prove useful in teaching pressing. For example, you could envision coiling the springs of your shoulders as you descend in a push-up. (Boing!)

Next time you are are working on your squat or deadlift, give this cue a try. Even if you think your squat and deadlift are pretty solid, this cue might be your ticket to tightening it up just a little bit more.

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