Well, here it is. Straight from the NSCA's latest journal. Just knock me out. With all due respect to my colleagues, I do not use this exercise. With anyone. Even my 75 y.o. mother-in-law or my back patients. In my mind it promotes the following dysfunctional movement patterns:
1. Posterior positioning of center of gravity with a squat-like movement. No one can move like this in the real world (without the stability ball holding them up)--they will fall over backward.
2. Lack of slight, normal torso/hip flexion (with lumbar stabilization) that should occur with squat-like movement.
3. Lack of ankle dorsiflexion that should occur as a part of an entire lower extremity sequencing with any squat movement. Yes, dearie, those knees need to move over the toes.
It intrigues me that someone would use this with anyone that remotely resembles an athlete. Why not just bodyweight squats holding one dumbbell or a medball at the chest? I have gotten away from ever using DBs in the hands for lunging or squatting, preferring to use an implement at the chest or over the shoulders. Many times I've watched personal training clients "slink" across the gym with horrible upper body positioning and lower body mechanics. Most people need to first master lunging and squatting with bodyweight only; then extra resistance can be added, but it needs to stimulate and promote optimal torso positioning (IMHO).
Maybe my real problem is that when I have seen this exercise used in the past, the person doing the exercise is not attending to the movement; and the person who gave them the exercise is not giving any feedback on their body mechanics. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen clients/patients mindlessly flexing and extending their knees, with poor mechanics, jabbering away with the person who gave them the exercise to do. There is no effort or expectation to move well!
Every day, for decades, we move our bodies, getting off the toilet, out of the car, off the couch, freely in space. There is no stability ball, wall or Smith machine bar to lean back on. How is it that these type of squat exercises are now perceived as safer, better or appropriate for building leg strength and mechanics? Why is simple squatting such a misunderstood and under-utilized method of strengthening? In my book, it is the foundation for everything else we do.
You can teach people basic squat mechanics without a stability ball or wall behind the back. You might have to give more manual and verbal cues; you might start with sit to stand. You might even have to demonstrate! Hmmm...can you do it yourself? Try to teach it to an inexperienced person and see what you think. If you raise the expectations for your client, you might just be surprised at how well they move, if given the right instruction and a chance.