• Get your Mobility Game Up With…. The “Squat Matrix”!

    When I was in grad school at the University of Texas here in Austin, I had the great fortune of working with the Men’s and Women’s Basketball program under head strength coach Todd Wright and his assistant, Logan Schwartz. Two stand up guys that knew how to run an excellent strength and conditioning program that, in my opinion, was as close to true functional training (as applied to its sport) that I’ve witnessed in any strength training facility. In other words, these guys really knew how to progress/regress, tweak, facilitate, drive, periodize, and most importantly, COACH movement and resistance training as it pertained to the game of basketball.  One of the things I really liked was their training theory…derived almost entirely from concepts and principles taught by the Gray Institute, one of the very first things that I learned from  was a concept called the “SFT syntax” and the Squat Matrix. SFT Syntax is the language used to describe the position of your limb(s) that are in contact with the ground….hands and knees, knees, feet…. in our case, the feet) could be in during any squat variation. S stands for a sagittal plane tweak, F for a frontal plane tweak, and T for a transverse plane tweak. For example:

    XXX = basic squat. feet shoulder width apart, no tweaks in any plane

    LXX/RXX = Left foot forward or Right foot forward out of basic squat position (left foot forward indicates sagittal plane tweak), with no tweaks in the frontal or transverse plane

    XWX/XNX = Wide stance or Narrow stance, with no tweaks in sagittal or transverse planes.

    XXI/XXE = Feet internally rotated, or Feet Externally rotated, with no tweaks in sagittal or frontal planes.

    Are you smelling what I’m stepping in? Good, lets take a peak at the Squat Matrix vid, then:

    Kinda long, I know, but if you can think back to the dark ages of high school math, there’s such a concept called “permutations”, which has to do with rearranging a set group of values (or PERMUTING, for those less intelligent type… unlike myself……

    …….orrrr I just looked that up on Wikipedia and only now understand what it means. epic fail.)

    Sorry, I have to go off on a tangent… because when I was looking for an “epic fail” picture on google, this one really spoke to me, with regards to on how many different levels of fail it transcends. Lets see how many I can count:

    – what the hell is that a tattoo of on your shoulder? It looks like a dolphin with rays of sunshine blasting out from it, but I honestly can’t even tell.

    – Look very closely at him… anyone see anything wrong with this picture? It looks like he has balloons in his chest, traps and probably even his arms.

    – He’s trying to look tough, but he has fake muscles. ’nuff said.

    – He’s trying to look tough, but he’s posing with a person in a heart-shaped animal costume….hmmmmm…

    – Someone needs to get a bike pump to his right nipple and even out his R/L pec ratio.

    – Nice headband, Lebron. You gonna bust some sick moves on me and then serve pancakes to me and my crew of flunkies?

    (fast forward to 2:30 to witness hilarity from circa 2003…I apologize ahead of time for any cuss words, but if you can’t laugh at this skit, check with your doctor to see if you have a pulse…)


    Game. Blouses.

    Ok, back to the Squat Matrix. Sorry for getting side tracked.

    So does that make sense? with all the permutations? I tried to be clear with them in the video, putting the 3 letter variation beside each move.

    Here are some of the key points with the Squat Matrix:

    – This is not an exercise that I would load up at all with most clients I work with… for most clients, were using this with bodyweight only just as a means to warm up before squatting. If I know the individual doesn’t have a whole lot of restricted motion, and/or gross biomechanical imbalances, I’ll throw in a dumbell for a goblet squat matrix, just to get a little extra weight to “sit into” the positions. If it’s your first time, don’t be a meathead about it, just use bodyweight.

    – The key is to go into a range of motion that does not illicit pain or anything more than moderate discomfort. I see the goal of the squat matrix as a means of loosening up joint capsules in the hips, knees, ankles, and feet, and bringing blood flow to the working tissue. In other words, we want to “feather” into new motion, not “force” into new motion if we don’t have it. Work gradually, and be kind to your body 🙂

    – Spend more time in ranges of motion that feel tighter/more restricted. anywhere from 3-10 reps, depending on the feel you get with each position.

    – If circuit training is your thing, we can program it like this:

    4 Rounds of:

    A1) Assisted Pull Up
    A2) Push Up
    A3) Step Up
    A4) DB Row
    A5) Squat Matrix:
    1ST ROUND Squat Matrix: Only Sagittal/Frontal Plane Tweaks: RXX, LXX, XWX, XNX, RWX, LWX, RNX, LNX
    2ND ROUND Squat Matrix: Only Frontal/Transverse Plane Tweaks: XWX, XNX, XXI, XXE, XWE, XWI, XNE, XNI
    3RD ROUND Squat Matrix: Only Sagittal/Transverse Plane Tweaks: RXX, LXX, XXI, XXE, RXI, RXE, LXI, LXE
    4TH ROUND Squat Matrix: We’re fully tweaked in at this point… hit up all the Remaining: Sagittal/Frontal/Transverse Tweaks: RWI, RWE, RNI, RNE, LWI, LWE, LNI, LNE

    So, there’s a little bit on the Squat Matrix. I hope you had the chance to laugh at my tom foolery and learn a little along the way.

    Take care and have a bomb-diggity day!


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