Partner Strength and Conditioning: Squats


Squats strengthen every muscle in the lower body. Everyone squats whether they realize it or not. Getting out of a chair, a car, or a low couch is a squat. Building strength in squatting carries over to any athletic endeavor in which you push with the legs: rock climbing, rowing, slack lining, picking up that bag of dog food or flipping the mattress. All of the endeavors just listed also involve deep squatting in which the hips come below the knees. As one squats deeper the angles of the hip, knee and ankle increase, the muscles become stretched beyond their optimal length and are weaker. If you are involved in an activity that involves deep squatting, your performance will improve if you strengthen the deep squat.

One challenge with training the deep squat is ankle inflexibility. Many people do not have the ankle flexibility to do an unassisted deep squat and they fall backwards at the bottom. If this happens to you, read my previous post on deep squatting and follow the stretch prescribed there.

Fortunately, using a partner can allow one with stiff ankles to strengthen their deep squat. In addition to strengthening the legs, the partner back to back squat has a significant balance component, especially when done on one leg. Because of the relatively low knee flexion angle, the partner back to back squat allows one to strengthen the deep squat position with less knee bend. This means that knee pain which is exacerbated with deep knee bending during conventional squats (ie patellofemoral pain syndrome) will often not be an issue in the partner back to back squat.



-Stand back to back with feet shoulder width apart
-Heels in front at a distance which is slightly less than the length of the thigh

-Engage abdominal muscles by drawing the naval in toward the spine
-Lower hips down as far as possible while keeping your back and pelvis in contact with your partner
-Keep back straight the entire time

-One partner does double leg while the other tries single
-Both partners try single leg (pictured)
-Touch hips to the ground on each repetition

-Try three sets of 5-10 repetitions every 48 hours, increasing the difficulty a little bit each session by trying single leg, going deeper, adding weight or increasing the repetitions.


Call 510-452-2022 to sign up for the partner strength and conditioning workshop which Jessica and I will teach on April 6th 2013 in Oakland California at the Great Western Power Company. See flyer below for details, signup by calling, stopping by the front desk or by contacting me at


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