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Updated: Apr 30

Some challenges presented in the gym require a slightly different approach to our usual thinking.

Many tools and aids available nowadays are nothing more than a waste of money and time when the goal is to increase physical strength. This includes, but is not limited to foam rollers, bosu balls, bands, and the likes.

The wooden block, however, has made the list of top training aids at our gym. Here's why:

One of the challenges when teaching the squat is that an excessive forward movement of the knees happens in a good number of lifters. This has to do with poor understanding of hip mechanics. The lifter has not yet developed an accurate movement "picture" in his mind in oder to follow correct execution of the movement.

While cues such as 'hips back' or 'freeze your knees' are efficient, using a kinaesthetic cue in the form of a wooden black has worked wonders at our gym.

The advantage of a 'target' such as the wooden block is that it provides both a visual AND motoric cue to the lifter - forcing him to hold his knees back and shifting the movement towards better hip mechanics. As we can see in the picture, if the lifter lets her knees slide too far forward, she will knock the wooden block over onto the floor.

We have learned that proper squat mechanics require the knees to be setin a position where the shins are placed just in front of vertical. This allows the hips to shove the body out of the bottom position. In other words: knees held behind the wooden block allow us to use the hips in a much more efficient and thus stronger way.

In practical terms, the wooden block shall be used both in warm-up sets and work sets in the beginning. The next stage is to perform the warm-up sets and the first half of the work set with the block. In the final stage, the wooden block is removed - provided the lifter has acquired correct hip mechanics and is able to hold his knees in the correct position (i.e. behind the toes).

Simple. Easy. Efficient.

Who could object?

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