Memories of my first kettlebell certification with Pavel back in October, 2007 are still branded in my mind as a reminder of how green I was when I took on this challenge. Part of my “green-ness” was my ignorance of how my own body was moving through space and how to get my brain to tell my appendages what and when to do something.
Many phrases were used copiously throughout the weekend that made absolutely no sense to me at the time. For example: “make space in your hips,” “spread your hip bones apart,” and “make your femurs longer.” I was still trying to figure out the difference between a squat and a hip hinge. Ah, the good old days!
Since my completion of that course, I have tasked myself with spreading the message of strength and quality movement to open minds and ears that are willing to hear. In doing so, I’ve found it necessary to make the message simple and quickly transferable. The following is the visual, or intrinsic cuing, that I use to help my students understand those aforementioned phrases I wasn’t able to process early on.
How to Translate Confusing Squat Cues
Think of your femurs as being on sliders rather than being hinged on a single pivot point. The intent is to think that they can be shifted away from the pelvis, “making space for the hips” on these imaginary sliders. Think of pushing out against a force that’s trying to collapse your legs inward “by spreading your hips bones apart” at the spot where your front pants pockets would be.
Also, imagine the femurs can “get longer” from the center of the bone. If the femur was divided equally in half, it could be “stretched” forward and backward.
Obviously, the bones in your legs don’t have the capability to move like this, but the mental focus and intent of the imagery sets the hips for a proper squat. Try it out and let me know in the comments section if it worked for you or your students.
Summary of Squat Cues
- Make Space or Pry Your Hips Open
- Push Out Against Hip Pockets
- Slide the Femurs Away from the Pelvis (Rather Than Push Knees Out on a Single Pivot Point)
- Make the Femurs Longer From the Center of the Bone
Even better – a video explanation: