Ankle Torque

Here we go Brilliant Friends,

If you’ve loosened up your ankles and calves, it’s time to engage them during the squat.

Initiate torque

I use starting stance imagery to set myself in position. Butt flexed, I rotate my femurs outward. This builds torque in the hips and it spirals down my legs. Remember, torque is rotational force.

This torque now acts upon my knees through my femurs. It transfers down to my shins, which rotate against my ankles. My legs are feeling nice and tight in standing position.

Normally, I would let my feet turn out from this rotational force. But not anymore. My feet are planted.

Anchor down

Keeping my feet pointed forward, I hold the tightness in my ankles and it stabilizes my stance. I’m using the torque from my legs to exert outward rotational force on the floor with my feet.

It feels like my feet are gripping the ground. I use the mental cue, “spreading the floor” to activate this system.

If my feet were pointing outward, my femurs would already be rotated out and there would be no torque. I wouldn’t be able to exert the same amount of tension in my ankles. So the key is to keep my feet pointed forward.

Complete the circuit

Since the ground isn’t going to turn, the torque from my feet goes back up through my ankles, knees, and hips. It feels as if my hips and legs are screwing my feet into to the ground, and my feet are screwing my femurs into my hips.

So the force I’m exerting from into the ground is actually being pushed back up from the ground. It’s a complete circuit of torque.

Descend

Initiating the downward movement from starting position is a bit counterintuitive with all this torque business. But the trick is to keep “spreading the floor” with my feet and pull out on my knees.

I can then start to sit back with my hips. I’m pulling myself down with rock solid stability. Hitting parallel is no problem when everything’s nice and tight through the feet and ankles.

The key is to make sure my feet do not turn out to the sides. In fact, I started training barefoot for this reason. My shoes would often slide on the gym floor during the descent, letting my feet spin out to the sides. Torque would bleed out, leaving me unstable.

By the time I came up out of the hole, my feet would be spread nearly parallel to the bar. So I now train shoeless.

Rise out of the hole

Pushing back up is as simple as maintaining torque in the ankles, knees pulling out, butt pushing forward. I keep my torso tight, and my feet locked on the ground, supplying the torque that ties it all together.

It’s like opening the pickle jar. When your hand slides, you lose torque. As long as my feet are tight on the ground, facing forward, I can utilize that force to crank myself down and back up in rock solid stability.

Even a tiny bit of improved ankle flexibility gives you so much more torque on the squat, deadlift, and daily life.

Do, then do again.

To powerful living,

Steve

Feel free to share your experiences, questions, and inspirations here

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