Squat Stability: Structure vs. Function

STOP Squatting Wide (If You Can't Pass This Test)

A big problem in fitness is misappropriating strength and stability. We know right away that strength and endurance are different, being strong doesn’t make you a great runner automatically. Strength and endurance, completely different adaptations. Its not so clear when it comes down to strength and stability. When preparing for a big lift(squat) we worry about the strength of the muscles that need to be stable. So we look to strengthen the stabilizers, like using a band on your hips or side steps to strengthen the hips or glutes.

So what is the difference between them? When we add force we're building strength, when we resist force we're building stability. To build stability we are going to focus on isolating the stability at the hip and seeing what our baseline is, at our most unstable position in the squat, where most injuries are prone to happen, the hole of the squat.

We are going to go over this assessment of functional stability of the hip which pertains to squatting. When you are at depth in the squat, you are at your most structurally unstable position. So you need to make sure from a stability standpoint, your getting stability from either structure or function. There is a tradeoff as you descend into the squat, your very structurally stable at the top and as you go down you rely less on structure and more on function. We want to now find where we are functionally unstable.

The Test: Hip Airplane: Video Explanation

  1. Single leg RDL, think about the relative position of the femur and the pelvis.
  2. Open your hips to a point of 90 degrees.
  3. Hold for 3-5 seconds and come back down.
  4. Work up to 5 clean reps per side as a warmup.

This exercise is trying to replicate the relative angle of the bottom of a squat on one leg to put the function on trial. We want to make sure we are buffering that force with function and not structure. Work on these if you find your function to be weak.