Olympic Squats for Female Athletes.. A good thing?

Should dryland Ice Hockey Training have woman perform Olympic Squats?

This was taken from newsletter than I regularly receive.   It does a great job discussing the moronic thought that full(Olympic) squats are bad for knee as well as the knees of female athletes.    Robert is an Olympic Weightlifting coach.  He knows that world much better than I and can validate the LACK of knee injuries by female weight lifters.  One must appreciate the pressure that is placed on the knees when performing a full Olympic movement.   Let me say that it’s pretty intense and not having any injuries over decades is proof enough for me.

Do I feel that an athlete should perform a full Olympic movement starting from the floor?  No.  How about ending in a full squat position?  Probably not.  However, let’s take the information for what it’s worth.  We must learn from those that have actually trained athletes for several decades with great success.
In my experience 99% of the female athletes that I have trained are simply weak.  Their knee collapse(come together) when they descend prior to jumping or cutting. This goes for Lacrosse, Soccer, Volleyball, Ice Hockey and Softball.  I can blame weak glutes and hamstrings and a variety of other weak muscle and alignment issues.  I can blame lack of technique.   To simplify the issue,  many of these problems stem from not being strong.  I’m not talking about the athlete squatting 2x their body weight.  I’m talking about handling their own body weight in space which they can’t do.

Show me an ACL injury and most likely the female can’t do more than 8-10 legitimate pull/chin ups.    Why does an upper body have to do with ACL injuries?  Easy, it’s all about relative body strength.   If the athlete is weak in something like a pull up then it’s likely that their entire body is weak.  This isn’t something that I dreamed up training  athletes in Pittsburgh.  This is the how the human body works.   Ask a weak body to move fast then change directions, something will give.

Once female athletes embrace strength training you will see the dramatic decrease in injuries in general not just ACL injuries.

Enjoy this post from Robert Takano!

This free newsletter is to inform you of events, and thoughts regarding the training of weightlifters and the incorporation of the Olympics lifts and their derivatives into the training of athletes.


As I write this now, Fall is not in the air. Fire season in Southern California has started early and smoke from the nearby forest infernos is wafting into my neighborhood, dropping ashes all over everything and producing what is called a pyrocumulus (I love words, especially science terminology, and this is a new one for me), cloud formation.

But the fires will be put out and Fall will arrive bringing with it high school and college women’s volleyball seasons that will then segue into women’s basketball season here in the United States. Time to get serious and start talking about women’s ACL injuries.

In July I came across a blog about female athletes’ knees [ click here ].

Figure 1 This is a pyrocumulus cloud formation coming at you

I’m not sure who the author is but there is a link to http://www.femaleathletesfirst.com where more can be learned about female athletes’ issues. The owner is Margaret Hoffman. There are some valid recommendations among the 15 points to help women deal with the fact that after puberty girls have an overall ACL knee injury risk of 1 in 50, 3 x greater than that in men. Unfortunately there are two key points that I have to disagree with.

The first is to avoid full squats. The second is to perform standing squats (I presume without resistance) while keeping the knees from protruding beyond the toes. I keep hoping that we had gotten beyond this point, but I’ll try to go over some well-trod ground since I know this is being read by a lot of people that haven’t encountered it before. Full squats with resistance performed properly (which means the knees protrude forward beyond the toes), will strengthen the structural integrity of the knee as well as the surrounding supportive musculature. Furthermore this exercise will develop most of the agonists and synergists involved in vertical jumping, sprinting, stopping, turning, pivoting and other movements involving the legs. By supporting a relatively heavy weight on the shoulders, the athlete will also work at stabilizing the core musculature. How can anyone prohibit the inclusion of full squats in the training of healthy volleyball or bas! ketball players?

By the way, the no knees in front of the toes stuff goes back to the powerlifting squatting technique which was developed to increase poundages in that sport’s version of the squat. It was never established as a knee protection maneuver. Somehow it has become dogma on how to squat and no one ever questions it.

Another article about explosive volleyball weight training exercises [appears here ]. The author is Denise Wood. While she gives props to Olympic lift variations—again there is no endorsement of full squats.

I think that I need to invoke a couple of real world discussions here with all due respect to the authors of the previous articles. Women have been competing in weightlifting in this country for the past 28 years, at a world’s championships level for 22 years and in the past three Olympic Games. These women are performing full squats, both back and front, with much greater regularity and with greater weights than the majority of comparably sized male athletes in the world. We just are not registering an epidemic of female weightlifters experiencing ACL injuries. This should put the Q angle argument to rest (never mind that the Soviets purposely looked for men with exceptionally wide hips to train as weightlifters.).

I’ve personally trained hundreds of high school and college female volleyball and basketball players. All of them were taught to perform power snatches, power cleans, split snatches, split cleans and power jerks. And they all did full back squats and full front squats from two to three times per week. The number of non-contact ACL injuries during that span of 16 years was zero. It shouldn’t be surprising to realize that a stronger joint structure is less apt to get injured. For too many years I’ve been reading about this crisis, but the vast majority of articles seem to miss this point. Girls that squat with appropriate resistance do not get ACL injuries.

Authored by

Robert Takano / Takano Athletics