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The Missing Link In Squat Performance [Tripod Foot]

by Ben Thompson

Today we are going to talk about squatting. 

Let’s face it, when its done well - it’s pretty darn sexy.

But in the same light, when it’s done poorly it can be bloody frustrating.

From the outside, the squat appears pretty simple but what people often don’t realise is that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes.

If you want to progress your squat in a SAFE and EFFECTIVE manner, you must understand it’s a game of tension. 

You MUST lower the weight with control and MAINTAIN TENSION throughout the lift. 

At no point in a squat do you 'relax' or 'switch off' before lifting the weight. 

Until you address this, you will continue to dive bomb into the bottom of the squat, loose control, and most likely have your knees meet for a quick kiss on the way up.

And we don’t want that…

If you are having issues with the squat, it’s time to ditch the barbell for a moment. 

The Foot Tripod

If we look at the structure of the foot, we essentially want to have three anchor points to the ground. 

The three points of the tripod consists of:

1.  The Heel.
2. The Base of the 1st Toe (Big Foot).
3. The base of the 5th Toe (Little Foot).

Figure 1: Tripod Foot.

Our foot gains stability when we have weight evenly distributed on all three legs of the tripod.

If we don't maintain even points of contact, we often see the arch collapse which leads to a whole other series of performance issues and injury risks. 


Figure 2: Three Points of Contact

Fixing The Squat 

So we have learnt about the Tripod Foot, but what on earth does that have to do with the squat? 

Actually quite alot...

Our feet are our first point of contact with the ground and are the foundation for every single functional movement we perform. 

If you don't have a stable base, it doesn't matter if you have strong structures up the kinetic chain, your movement is going to suck. 

Fixing the stability through the foot will help to ensure you avoid any knee, hip and lower back issues associated with squatting.

Figure 3: Relaxed / Tensioned

When you squat, it's not just about driving the knees out. Often when we see this cue used, the weight is unevenly distributed and the foot rolls out.

The goal is to keep even pressure through the Tripod Base and corkscrew the floor to create tension and stability. 

Putting It Into Practice 

So we have covered the theory, but what does it look like in practice? 

Follow these simple steps below:

1. Stand in your comfortable Squat Stance.

We generally recommend about hip distance apart with the feet slightly externally rotated.

2. Focus on creating Tripod Foot.

The goal is to focus on three points of contact from the foot. Draw your attention to  the heel, the base of the 1st and 5th Toe.

3. Corkscrew your feet into the floor.

The next step is to start to generate tension by 'corkscrewing' or externally rotating the foot so it creates tension up the entire chain. If done correctly, the knees should drive out and the femur will externally rotate in the hip socket.. If you put your hands on your butt, you should feel your glutes active and tensioned. 

4. Squat while maintaining tension in the hip..

Now that you have created tension, you should feel your glutes as you begin the squat. To squat, break at the HIP and KNEE simultaneously and squat as low as YOUR MOBILITY allows with an extended spine. 

Putting It Into Practice 

If this is new to you, it's going to take some time to master. To become stronger, you must improve your technique and move more efficiently.

This technique exists because it allows you to lift the greatest load possible in the safest way possible.  

To make change, don't just go back to your old ways.

In the warm up, take time practicing this movement and holding tension in the the glutes.

In your sessions, take some weight off the bar and slow down the eccentric phase of the lift. 

To master your squatting technique, ensure that in 90% of your training, you lower the weight for 2-10 seconds and always lift the weight as fast as possible.

Remember - you have got to earn the right to move fast!

 If you’re wanting to learn how to squat with the right technique and get the progress you’ve been wanting for years, then send us a message via the contact page and we can help you out.

Other Resources 

The High Bar Back Squat is arguably the best exercise to build leg strength and improve mobility of the lower body.⁣⁣

⁣⁣The exercise is commonly used by weightlifters, however at Movement Enhanced this is our preferred way of squatting, as we feel it promotes more athleticism, building strength through full range of motion and increases mobility.⁣⁣

⁣⁣Check out the video below to learn more. 


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