opex one sept 18

The Perfect Workout to Replace a Squat Clean

We fall at a rate of 9.8 meters/second2. However the rate in which we get back up often varies and is sometimes dependent on age and circumstances (SSC). When I was 16, I could throw myself down a set of 10 stairs, bail (toss my board), absorb the shock, hit the ground, get back up and repeat until success or agony. 17 years later, I hit the ground and I just lay there. Though my body is much more fit now, the cold hard concrete is just more welcoming for a nap these days.


Though the rate of falling does not change, the velocity of impact can, as height of the fall changes, not the overall mass. Sure, speed/projectory can both add and subtract to this velocity, but when variables are minimized, (i.e. a depth jump/drop) we can start to manipulate the results. In a depth drop, the rate in which we absorb, and turn around the force concentrically can and will have effects on our strength speed.

Skateboarders often have very little to zero traditional sports training that coexist within their practice/sport; the odd thing is, empirically speaking, we tend to increase our vertical over time clearly without training squats or power cleans. I think of skateboarding as a parallel to gymnastics on some levels: a high skill level sport with a base in acrobatics and abrasive kinesthetic control. In gymnastics, you do not perform an iron cross before you can support yourself on the rings – there’s a progression that needs to take place. Similarly, skateboarding has a very linear increase on both skill and impact. You ollie off 3 stairs, then 4, then 5 and so on. Linear and simple, based on skill adaptation and for the sake of this article, an increase height of falling. As you attempt new skills (at new heights) the circumstances can often misalign with the current skill-set/experience of the athlete and we will see more bails. This in turn results in more eccentric loading on the SI, hips, hamstrings and ankle stabilizers as we take the on the fall/crash – this creates a pattern of progressive loading over time. This has traditionally yielded in great hip mobility for pistols and strong untrained novice deadlifts (high 200s), for skateboarders I’ve worked with that transitioned into weightlifting and/or CrossFit. The eccentric loading and priming of the SI starts to show its face from a history of impact and repulsion “training.”


The benefits of shock method training have been well recorded by Verkhoshansky and can be a great organic de-load in certain training cycles for your traditional weightlifting.

Why in all of God’s green earth would we replace a squat clean, when most of us can’t wait for the next time it shows its face in our program?


1. Recover the CNS

2. Shoulder/trap injury (work around)

3.  Or, removal of dynamic work to balance scap strength (example below)



  1. Squat clean: 1-1-1; rest 3min




A1. Depth Jump to 18″ target: 3×1, 48,52,56”; rest 30s

A2. Powell raise @3010 – 3×8-10/arm; rest 90s

A3. Video review, current / instructional (study!) – Video x 5


Any time I remove a high skill element in someone’s program, I like to replace it with some kind of prescribed learning. A good deal of us have no problem watching WL videos or just keeping up with current feeds, but consciously prescribing education for my clients is big and leads to better movement and learning. Current reviews would refer to feedback videos that athletes receive from their coaches (picking apart form/tech, ie Coach’s Eye/etc), or Instructional could be purely an educational piece. I’ll have folks study up and view a specific video on Cataylst Athletics demo’s X amountof times within a certain rest period. This allows you to mentally train the movement pattern and save the CNS.

Quality over quantity can also apply to exposure of a movement – regardless of intensity. You can work on eccentric loading from the depth drop/jump, and gain perspective and experience on your squat clean via either visualization or education. The height of your drop will facilitate the loading stimulus. Don’t go nuts here, just look to hit the following criteria as a parameter:


    1. Always land on the heels – start with moderately dense flooring, something that won’t challenge ankle stability too much as you’re adapting to the drill.
    2. Choose a height that allows you to land in the receiving position (feet under shoulders)
    3. Velocity of impact should push you near parallel in your squat when absorbing the shock
    4. Repulsion: jump out of that squat with full force – hitting triple extension; using multiple height drops, I like to create a marking on a wall or set a target to make sure my output (vertical) stays the same as “loading” increases
    5. If you’ve never done these, modesty is the name of your game.


In the grand scheme of macro to meso’s, having some other options in your back pocket can always be a nice way to refocus an athlete or change things up so focus and energy can be re-appropriated in other spaces. In a season of high emotional/mental stress, a hard charger could benefit from this replacement to recover their CNS and still train hard. Do we all need to throw ourselves down a flight of stairs to experience progressive loading? Nope! That’s what squats are for…unless you’re young and you can still bounce off of concrete 🙂


Sean McGovern OPEX Coach

Coach Sean McGovern


* Photos courtesy of verkhoshansky.com

(Visited 896 times, 1 visits today)

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *