August 2, 2017

Sissy Squat Madness

Sissy Squat Madness

In the past few months, we have noticed a huge influx in the amount of Sissy Squat (3162) pieces heading out the door. Since it’s a relatively simple, small piece of equipment, this sudden surge in Sissy Squat popularity surprised us. In an effort to find out what was up, we reached out to Dr. Ken Leistner—a renowned expert in strength training, athleticism, gym ownership, and all-around awesomeness—to see if he had any insights. Here’s what Dr. Ken had to say about the Sissy Squat.

Every piece of strength training or bodybuilding equipment can be viewed as a tool: a tool that fills your workbench or tool chest with an available option to stimulate changes in your muscular structure. Arguments can be made relative to the quality of the tool, its design, practical application, and actual user comfort as well as its result producing potential.

Through the various eras of strength training, the names of specific exercise movements have changed or been interpreted differently from decade to decade, while equipment, even the very limited equipment dated from the 1940s and ‘50s, now have other names. For those of us whose formative training years were in the mid-1900s, our point of reference is most confusing – much more so than younger trainees. I believe we see the loss of potential benefit and positive results due to misunderstanding and misidentification.

A glaring example is the long forgotten Roman Chair. Today’s trainee identifies everything from a hyperextension bench, 45-degree hyperextension bench, glute-ham machine, sissy squat bench, and ab leg raise piece as a “Roman Chair.” Thankfully, the true Roman Chair and its attendant exercises have passed into bodybuilding history along with the high probability of orthopedic injury to various body areas. However, an overlooked exercise and piece of equipment has been maligned unnecessarily and can, in fact, provide significant benefits. The Sissy Squat exercise and Sissy Squat bench have had a bit of a revival in the past five or so years and what was another of the forgotten or discarded exercises is again on the agenda for many enthusiasts. Unfortunately, like exercises similar to the unfamiliar Roman Chair, a number of related movements are referred to as a “Sissy Squat” and some of the variations or perceived variations are an accident waiting to happen.

The supposed history of the movement, steeped in Greek mythology, is well known and often repeated, but the acrobatic gesticulations utilized by a previous generation of bodybuilders, and worse, those now copying what they believe to be “this great new exercise,” can be potentially dangerous.

For the modern trainee, think of the Sissy Squat as a “locked in,” low back-safe variation of a full squat movement. The stress is placed primarily on the quadriceps group, although any of the so-called experts who expound upon the absence of hip/glute involvement should be encouraged to return to their basic classroom science. I would admonish all to avoid any non-supported attempt at a Sissy Squat as the potential shearing stress on various parts of the knee becomes a viable concern.

Photos of today’s trainees mimicking what they believe were the Vince Gironda or “heroes of the 1940s” versions of the movement excite the interest only of orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists!

Sissy Squat Supported vs Unsupported

A properly executed Sissy Squat should involve a way to secure the feet and ankles, and provide support to the calves with a piece of adjustable equipment so a controlled full square movement can be done with the “weight on the heels” in complete balance. The proviso for doing this exercise properly is that your knee joint(s) can safely tolerate the movement. This stress can be minimized by maintaining a proper upright squatting position and moving in a controlled manner.

An adjustable-for-height calf pad is a must so both proper squatting position and balance can be maintained. Comfort is also important, requiring that the ankle/foot restraint be appropriately padded and rotate so that movement is smooth and unimpeded. Obviously, the Legend Fitness Sissy Squat (3162) meets all the requirements for effective, productive, and comfortable exercise.

The Sissy Squat can be a primary lower extremity exercise. You can hold dumbbells in each hand, a plate across the chest, or have training partners place a barbell across your shoulders. Bodyweight alone can often be enough effective resistance when you first begin to do Sissy Squats. As a “finisher” to your other lower extremity work, reps, sets, rep cadence, and effective resistance can vary to give a very high and often uncomfortable (in a good way!) level of work.

Legend Fitness Sissy Squat 3162

Utilizing a Legend Fitness Sissy Squat, we have had many of our strongest professional football players literally crawling from the equipment at the end of a challenging session. We have also used this small, compact piece for the purposes of knee and hip rehabilitation with excellent results, invoking caution as the patient’s physiological condition dictated. However, the Sissy Squat, long buried among the ruins of “forgotten movements” is making a comeback and can be a formidable part of one’s training tool box.  

To learn more about the Legend Fitness Sissy Squat, click here.

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