ALLI Sports Racer X Online MX Sports GNCC Racing Racer Productions The Racing Paper Racer X Brand

The Back Squat

by Coach Seiji


The classic back squat has reigned as one of the kingpin exercise since the beginnings of strength training. Squatting engages muscles from the shoulder girdle down, reinforces core stability, utilizes the muscular and neurologic chain from the ground up (closed kinetic chain), reinforces holding body tension and develops effective hip extension-all serious components to riding a dirt bike effectively. Some view squats as an injurious undertaking, but I view not being able to squat correctly as exposing oneself to injuries. Common sense dictates that form should be mastered first and loads gradually increased, only with this form intact.

The back squat is a major component of the Virtual Trainer premium training plans.
Key Components
  1. Core to extremity muscle engagement. The order of muscle engagement is from core outward. Abdominal and back muscles should be tightened before hips, hamstrings and quadriceps.
  2. Shoulder to hip relationship should be maintained. Envision your shoulder joint, spine and hip joint from the side. Draw a line through those structures; everything about this line of stability remains intact. This line tips forward from the shoulder and down and rearward at the hip,  but nothing else changes. DO NOT give this up to get lower!
  3. One joint theory. This is a hip extension exercise. This means the “one joint,” the hip joint, should do all the rotation in that area. DO NOT create other “joints” by moving segments of your spine. This particularly relates to the low point of your squat!
  4. Tunnel theory. The start position is the beginning of the “tunnel.” If this is correct and the end position (bottom of squat) is correct, then you can punch it through the “tunnel” without much direction. Same goes for the bottom of the squat to the top again. So, if the top and bottom positions are correct, little “steering” in between is required.

Maintain the rules above with these positioning cues

  1. Feet slightly wider than shoulder width, pointed straight or very slightly rotated outwards.
  2. “Screw” your feet into the ground, in the outward direction. Your feet shouldn’t actually move but that “wind up” tension from the hip should be there to stabilize your hip joint and drive the knees out during the movement.
  3. Bar rests below your cervical spine, but above your shoulder blades.
  4. Maintain neutral cervical spine (look forward, not up).
  5. Load heels first to primarily engage hips, once mastered you can more evenly load the feet.

If all the rules and cues above are applied, it’s difficult to do a squat incorrectly. The most important things to maintain are the points related to the back and spine. Safety will be preserved and you will be reinforcing core stability and movement patterns that will aid you in all athletic endeavors.

Remove the Guesswork with Premium Training

At Virtual Trainer, we believe there is a right way to train for motocross. It starts with having a clear goal, finding expert instruction, performing structured training and receiving immediate feedback throughout the process. Get your custom training plan now!

YouTube Video for Demonstration Purpose

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

Share on:


  1. Gravatar
    Steve Bissinger March 11, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    I feel safer on the the incline squat machine at the gym. Am I missing out on core and shoulder stuff?

  2. Gravatar
    Seiji Ishii March 13, 2017 at 7:05 pm


    Yes, the machine eliminates much of the body tension, inline core stability, balance, and basic motor requirements that a non assisted squat stresses. Much better in my opinion to drop the weight and get off the machine and do squats in natural gravity, under your own stability, stressing your own proprioception, mobility restrictions, etc. You live and work in gravity with no supporting structures in most sports and activities so best to exercise in the same manner IMO.

Leave a reply