Exercises You Should Be Doing: Squat to Stand With Diagonal Reach

This week on ‘Exercises You Should Be Doing’, I thought I would share an amazing catch-all mobility drill we use with our clients to get them moving like straight up ninjas.  This is a great drill to add to a quick warm-up sequence or to help you improve your squat patterning (because that shit is sexy).  Trainer Secret: We also use it as a stealth assessment during a team training warm-up if we have anyone with us we haven’t worked with yet to see how they’re moving.  

What are they doing?

The squat to stand drill is a great way to improve general mobility in your thoracic (upper) spine, hips and ankles,  and adding the diagonal reach also provides a rotational component in your t-spine as well.  Not only that but it helps you get comfortable and gain stability in the deep squat position without a heavy load (eg kettlebell or barbell).  It’s a VERY human-friendly catch-all drill that is super easy which is why we love it.

What should I feel?

In the deep squat position you should feel comfortable and unrestricted.  If you don’t you can modify like we show in the video by elevating your heels or adding a med ball or yoga block to help with stability.  

When you press your hips up you want to feel a good stretch in your hammies.

When you reach, you want to feel a rotation/light stretch in your upper back NOT your shoulder (see below)

Coaching Cues:

1. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes slightly pointed out.  The initial squat stance is the most important and something you will have to play around with to find your most comfortable stance when you’re in the deep squat position.

2. Bend over and grab under your toes.  If you’re not able to do this with your legs straight, it’s okay to bend your knees until you can grab your toes.  

3. ‘Press’ your knees out wide and lower your butt towards your heels.  Slowly lower down until you end up in the deep squat position.  We like to slowly inhale during this movement to help increase upper back extension to keep your chest tall.

Note: If you’re not able to get down into a deep squat, either at all or if you can’t keep your chest ‘up’, we recommend adding a 1″-2″ block under your heels.  If that doesn’t help, this may not be a good drill for you just yet.

4. Keep your weight on your heels and use your arms to ‘pry’ your legs out and your chest tall.  You can gently rock  and ‘pry’ around in this position and ‘feel’ the deep squat.  Make sure it is comfortable and you’re able to keep your chest ‘up’.

Note: If you have trouble keeping your chest up, remember to gently engage your core as if you were going to get hit in the stomach and press your heels into the ground to get tall.

5. Maintain the deep squat position, extend your arm and rotate at your back.  Hold onto one toe and reach diagonally with the other and rotate from your upper back.  Make sure not to just crank your shoulder back.

6. Press your hips up towards the ceiling. Hold on to your toes and get a good hamstring stretch and drop back down for the next rep.  Repeat for the desired reps (usually 4-8)