Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Movements not Muscles...

Why do the knees "cave in" during the squat?

Is it the adductors (groin) muscles? Is it the glute medius? What and why?

Some will say adductors, some will say Glute medius - I say yes/no and don't worry about it...
Here is my answer to someone with this very question...and my response to the recommendation of adductor strengthening to fix the cave in of the knees...

"...the adductors are also considered the "4th" hamstring and function as a hip extensor as well but to say that an aDductor functions as a hip aBductor is interesting to say the least - and/but muscle "function" is dependent on joint angle so in the grand scheme of things who knows.

What we do know is that your knees are caving in so lets focus on the movement and not the "muscles."

The "Fix"- have your training partner place their hands on the outside of your lower leg (just below the knee) and while performing a squat (bodyweight or goblet squat NOT a PL squat) have them apply pressure inward - you will need to apply pressure outward to keep the knees in alignment on the way down and on the way up.
Important - the pressure applied inward by your partner is enough pressure to cause you to have to press out NOT enough to injure you.
Also hit some outside toe pulls to get the glute medius firing better before the partner drill."

In the FMS we use something called Reactive Neuromuscular Training and this is an example of that and "feeding the mistake" to fix a faulty movement pattern and you will note some Z Health thrown in as well (the outside toe pull - don't know what it is? Click the link on the right and find out).

On a rare Nutrition note - check out this little article on "belly busting beverages"...

Watch those liquid calories!

Training 5/27/08
Prep work
32kg Get-up x 3+3
32kg Halo x 3+3
32kg Goblet Squat x 3
Thoracic rotation

32kg Alternating Swings x 20 + 10 Burpees x 5 sets in 9:30
24kg Alternating Swings x 20 + 10 Burpees x 5 sets
Total time for all 10 sets = 21:50

Tough one - this has become one of my favorite workouts. Simple and brutal.
Fun stuff...


Franz Snideman said...


this just makes sense. Logical it the word I think of. I have come to learn over the years that the myriad of isolation exercises designed to correct muscle imbalances just don't work.

Train the movement correctly really is the NIRVANA of corrective exercise. Fool around with the movement in many ways until it looks and feel right!

Nice post!

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Franz - movement is the goal.

Jim Hansen said...

Hi Brett,
I found your post and have a question for you. I am a long time runner trying to figure out my stride mechanics. This fall I started trying kettlebells and that led me to reading anything that could help from outside the running community that might fix my running stride. I ran into Z_Heatlh along the way and have been trying it since February. Basically I have a left leg where the knee knocks in, along with the femur twisting in so I get alignment issues with the knee, ankle, and hip. You can see it here: http://recoveryourstride.blogspot.com/2008/04/runner-heel-thyself-can-it-be-done.html
I can't tell what causes what but I am hoping the Z-Health might help with joint mobility but particularly the neural retraining. Do you think this squat exercise could retrain the knee and leg how not only to work in a squat but be applied to a running stride? I have been working on just learning how to squat and my knees do rotate in when doing so. My leg has been doing this for years so it really needs to be "reprogrammed". I will try your drill anyhow as it seems interesting. I am trying to get together with a Z-Health person in Massachusetts, hopefully he will have time after his vacation to sort things out with me.
Also, what is FMS? Any other direction you can point me would be appreciated too!
Jim Hansen

Brett Jones said...

Shoot me an email @

We can get specific for your situation and get you taken care of - also check out
www.functionalmovement.com for details on the FMS.

Moby Dick said...

I am glad to read your post. I have noticed over the years that whenever I feel any kind of pain or "tendonitis" type of symptoms after working out, it is usually because I was slacking in the technique. It takes ATTENTION, but when I really focus on what I am doing then I will usually notice what I was doing wrong. That usually ends the "tendonitis"

Mike T Nelson said...

You guy all know this, but just how you cue an exercise (even just non verbal) can make a huge difference.
In that area it may be better to still think in "movements" than muscles. So instead of "use your lats more" cue what movement you want them to do "bring your arms down and back". This allows their brain to run the right software to do the movement.
Mike N

Joe Sarti said...


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