Learning and working with 100’s of athletes we decided to take bilateral squats out of our program. This may piss people off in the fitness, power lifting and body building worlds but we have our reasons. First I learned about the bilateral deficit and applied it and it worked. Second we had to ask our selves how strong is strong enough and at what point do we want to focus on the physical demands of the athlete’s sport? A weight room record board is rarely populated with starters from the team. The job of the athlete is their sport, not the weight room so we work on the way the athlete applies their force through angles and joint positioning. I want our guys to be very good at acceleration and deceleration through creating positive angles. Though I strongly believe strength is the foundation of all movements, there are better ways to build that strength than with the back squat. Every human more than likely learned to roll and crawl before they walked. They also carried things before they started putting things on their backs. So why would we want to load dysfunction?
Our process is the athlete will always start from the floor up and go from proximal to distal. After the athletes do their floor movements we add depth drops, lateral hops, and stomps before jumps so the athlete can get the feel of the force produced in to the floor (GRF). After we teach drops we use jumps, we can teach vertical force through jumps as in box jumps and we do add DB drops on the eccentric phase to supply more force into the ground. The biggest backlash I have heard is that we can not supply vertical force with out box squats. There are many many different ways to produce vertical force than squats.
After the drops and jumps we have them split squat, rear foot elevated split squat, and increasingly add heavier loads because an athlete rarely if ever plays on two stable feet. Just a few movements we do are sled pushes and marches. This teaches the athlete horizontal force production (sprinting) which is used on the field of play. We also add lateral sled drags in to increase lateral force production to assist in changing of directions.
We do how ever obviously do bilateral movements. Our main core lift is the trap bar deadlift. We introduce this when the athlete has anterior core control as well as pelvis alignment. The goblet squat is another bilateral movement we use in many forms. We do different forms of goblet squat such as isometric holds or single arm kettle bell squats. Both challenging the anterior core. The core is the root of the body and its main job is to protect the spine.
I hope this can stir up some thoughts in your programs as well as some good conversation. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org