“Dude, I squat 500 lbs,” that was how he first addressed me. “Dude” and then the statement that he squats a weight that not many people on the earth can imagine. FIVE hundred pounds, ¼ of a ton.
Most people would actually crap themselves under that amount of weight. I don’t think this guy, or most others are much different. My immediate response to the monster squatter was this, “Okay, but how low.”
I imagine it would be the response of anyone that spends much time in the weight room.
If you hang around the right people you know that not squatting to full depth is for low level bodybuilders, guys who “exercise,” and any other form of low life that walk into the local gym. Full range of motion on everything
“Talk is cheap, squat deep”
I want to establish this first, I love full reps. Hell I love reps from a deficit. I have my weight room credentials and have seen enough lifts to know to always squat deep, do push ups to a full range of motion, and I always do chin ups until my sternum touches the bar.
In short, I do not cheat in the weight room. Lets get that idea off the table, because I am about to break all the rules and tell you that sometimes you need to cheat.
You probably need to cheat when you are doing the opposite of the squat: the hinge.
I do partial Romanian deadlifts (RDL) all the time and I coach my athletes to do partial RDL’s.
Want to see what I mean? Here is a partial RDL.
The hinge is our lower body pull. It can come in a lot of forms, deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, etc. Those require a lot of coaching to be really “hinge-worthy” but definitely have some aspect of hinging involved in them.
Outside of a swing the RDL is the purest form of hinging one can do.
Basically, if you value the hinge and want your hinge to be strong, not just well conditioned, you need to do the RDL in some form.
Got a problem, the hinge can be your answer.
Need more power? Hinge, it’s how jumping starts.
Need more speed? Hinge, it’ll improve your backside mechanics.
Back pain? Hinge, it’ll turn on your glutes.
Good hinges sometimes do not require a full “range of motion”
Why a partial rep?
There are 3 strategies to moving a bar down your legs when you are standing.
The first is a knee bend. Eventually you will run out of ankle mobility and the strict knee bend strategy will go out the window.
The second strategy is the back bend, I think we all are smart enough at this point to realize that a strict back bending strategy with weight in your hands is a pretty bad movement. If you don’t realize this you might want to get back to your coloring books.
Lastly we have the hinge. It involves only moving your hips forward and back. Move the hips back and the load moves down, move the hips forward and the load comes up. With just a slight knee bend this works much better.
So here is where the reasoning for a partial hip hinge/RDL comes into play. When an athlete is hinging, the moment at which their hips quit moving horizontally in space, is the same moment this movement quit being a hinge.
It is worth saying again; If the bar keeps moving and the hips are not moving backwards, athletes are no longer doing a hinge.
Check out this video to see what I mean.
As soon as the hips stop moving there must be a substitute someplace to keep the bar moving down. Add in some knee bend and take the bar to the ground and you have a pretty good looking deadlift.
Add in some back bend and keep the bar moving towards the ground and you have a pretty nice disc herniation, There might not be a worse position in the weight room than an RDL that has gone too far.
The fact is most athletes and clients cannot hinge to the ground. In our other primary hinge movement, the swing, we do not ask athletes to hinge that far.
Look at the swing. Slight bend in the knees, keep the kettlebell above the knees, and let it move through the legs. There isn’t a pre-req about getting your torso parallel to the floor or anything like that.
The RDL should mimic a good looking swing, but be a lot heavier and a lot less dynamic.
A lot more has been written, and a lot more in depth than I have decided to write, about the hinge. It is an absolutely essential movement to the success of your clients and athletes. Don’t get wrapped up in the distance of the movement, get wrapped up in the quality of the movement.
The saying isn’t “Talk is cheap, RDL deep.”