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Troy Kerr
08-26-2010, 06:41 PM
When working with at my affiliate we also have a program run through a community college that allows public safety members ( police, radio dispatchers, etc..) to come in an obtain college credit for working out. When trying to teach some of the morbidly obese group members to squat, it seems that they can only get but so low. I know part of it is that they probably are being made to go, but I can't help but wonder if at some point someone can possibly get to fat to safely and effectively squat?

Donald Lee
08-26-2010, 08:16 PM
If somebody's that obese, I'm not sure squatting is important to that person at all. They probably have plenty of mobility, flexibility, stability, and other neural/structural issues. It's hard enough teaching normal folks how to squat properly.

I'd rather do something like lunges for the obese.

Derek Weaver
08-27-2010, 12:06 AM
Split squats for the win. Or lunges, like Donald said.

Darryl Shaw
08-27-2010, 03:28 AM
If they're morbidly obese I wouldn't be too concerned with their squat, I'd just have them work on general mobility and improving their base fitness level until they've lost some weight.

Harry Munro
08-28-2010, 04:08 PM
I think it's very important to teach the very obese how to squat. There is no need to add weight to the movement but getting them bodyweight squatting will aid simple acts like standing up from a chair. It's the movement that is the important thing.

Christine Petty
10-04-2010, 04:42 PM
If somebody's that obese, I'm not sure squatting is important to that person at all. They probably have plenty of mobility, flexibility, stability, and other neural/structural issues. It's hard enough teaching normal folks how to squat properly.

I'd rather do something like lunges for the obese.


I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with this. A lunge for someone that heavy is a terrible and possibly knee destroying idea.

Squatting with no weight is a better option, and depth will come in time.

James Evans
10-05-2010, 04:08 AM
I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with this. A lunge for someone that heavy is a terrible and possibly knee destroying idea.

Squatting with no weight is a better option, and depth will come in time.

I'm with Christine here.

Consider how many relatively 'healthy' athletes struggle with instability in a lunge.

Reverse lunges offer a safer alternative, I tend to see much more control in the movement but I would still hold back on these.

Donald Lee
10-05-2010, 04:32 AM
Yeah, I'm not a big fan of forward lunges. I guess I should have clarified. I would start with a split squat or squat lunge or whatever you want to call it. Then, maybe someday progress to a reverse lunge. Squatting to a high box would not be a bad idea though.

James Evans
10-05-2010, 04:39 AM
A controlled box squat would be good, particularly as we have reached the point of evolution where we need to facilitate the act of sitting down and standing up - see Harry's post above. Although I'm partly joking look at how many people collapse into a chair or use their arms to lever themselves back up.

Maybe if we all rediscovered the lost human skill of walking we might be on the way to not having to do some of this nonsense in the gym.

Gant Grimes
10-05-2010, 12:37 PM
I wouldn't do any sort of lunges with obese people--forward or reverse. Too many balance issues for little reward (at this time).

Squats can also be a problem as there are likely a lot of balance and proprioceptive issues that will limit what you can do. The heaviest guy I worked with was over 500 pounds. I had him do planks/side planks, wall presses (press yourself away from the wall), stripper squats, and getups (go from the floor to a standing position).

The stripper squats were done holding onto a power rack. Don't go for full depth immediately, as the knee has not been subjected to that much weight in awhile. Start with partials and work your way down.

Derek Weaver
10-05-2010, 12:54 PM
I'm revising my thought on this and going with... standing up.

I remember seeing something about that guy who was maybe 600 lbs. and his trainer. They were on one of the morning shows I think.

Anyway, they noted that for the first several weeks, all they did was have him stand up off the couch with a hand from the trainer. Like the stripper squat Gant mentioned. Someone who is obese and likely very sedentary, just standing up 10 times is like revving a V12 engine.

Emily Mattes
10-07-2010, 09:05 PM
Once the person does get to the point where they can do a free bodyweight squat and are ready to add weight, goblet squats can be a good transition before barbell squats.

Daniel Christensen
10-09-2010, 11:42 PM
This thread reminds me of a great Dead Kennedys tune.

Peter Dell'Orto
10-10-2010, 05:23 PM
This thread reminds me of a great Dead Kennedys tune.

Sign of a mis-spent youth - I know exactly what song that is, too.

May I never be that drunk.

Pete Gordon
10-24-2010, 02:05 AM
Get 'em to squat. It's good for them.

When I've trained obese person to squat, it usually starts off with somewhat of a 1/4 squat, so their butt touches the pile of plates I ask them to touch. Then ask they progress, I lower the piller pf discs. Of course, i'm talking weeks, not in one session.

Obviously their health & safety is their main priority, so they need to work within a comfortable ROM, while at the same time putting in some hard work.

I'm a big fan of goblet squats for beginners.

Peter Dell'Orto
10-25-2010, 05:50 AM
Obviously their health & safety is their main priority, so they need to work within a comfortable ROM, while at the same time putting in some hard work.

I agree with you. That's how we (at the gym I work at) handle fat loss clients and sedentary folks, nevermind people with injuries that restrict their ROM. Generally we have them squat to a box, and lower the box until we find the point at which they lose their neutral spine. Often for heavier folks, the spine is fine but the body/legs gets in the way. In that case, they just keep working on a lower ROM, inch by inch, session by session.

I'm a big fan of goblet squats for beginners.

I do these with light kettlebells - getting the client's hands in the right position seems to be easier than with the smaller dumbbells. We also progress pretty quickly to zercher sandbag squats, using some very light sandbags (maybe 10-20 pounds). The arm positioning and back position is easy to coach - "Don't lean over and drop the bag!" and it helps get the person to a lightly loaded squat.

Basically squatting is natural and healthy, but since I see a lot of injured/injury rehab clients and fat loss clients - often with both issues - we have to take it slowly and work them along. So we do pretty much what Pete does. :)

Pete Gordon
10-25-2010, 04:33 PM
Generally we have them squat to a box, and lower the box until we find the point at which they lose their neutral spine...they just keep working on a lower ROM, inch by inch, session by session.

Basically squatting is natural and healthy, but since I see a lot of injured/injury rehab clients and fat loss clients - often with both issues - we have to take it slowly and work them along. So we do pretty much what Pete does. :)

It's all about progressive overload. That and amazingly beautiful women hand feeding me grapes :)