For critics who think long femurs don’t matter in the back squat, play around with this virtual squat application and find out the truth!
Whether you want to believe it or not, femur length relative to torso length is a major determinant in a person’s ability to efficiently perform a back squat.
It’s puzzling that many muscle builders dismiss the long femurs excuse as poppycock, when the physics of this are actually quite easy to conceptualize.
I found an incredible site that has an interactive squat application, where you can alter the body’s femur length while maintaining the length of all the other body parts and overall height.
Before you visit the site (hyperlink coming), don’t blow it off as just an illustration and not the real thing.
It’s a very accurate depiction of what happens during the back squat relative to the athlete’s femur length as it relates to torso length and body height.
Believe me, as a personal trainer, I have poured over this fascinating phenomenon and size up the anthropometrics of all of my clients.
This interactive squat will be great for people who find it difficult to visualize the effect of varying femur lengths on a person’s squat. Conceptualizing this comes extremely easy to some people, but tricky to others.
Athletes who can draw the human body should find it a breeze to conceptualize the effect of lever lengths on the squat exercise.
I myself have been illustrating the human figure since early childhood as a hobby, so it’s very easy for me to “draw” out all the possibilities and animate them in my mind.
But you need not be an artist to understand “levers” and how they apply to movement…
Here is the link to the virtual squat. Have fun playing around with this; it is SO cool! Just move the little button left or right to alter femur length, then drag on the man’s hip to make him squat! Drag slowly or else he’ll pop back up to standing.
The interactive tool will not allow you to get him into an unnatural squat position, such as ridiculously forward knees to compensate for the long femurs (try doing that and watch what happens!).
The interactive squat allows you to create crazy long femurs as well as crazy short thighs. This virtual tool will put to rest any of the rants by the critics.
Now, before you insist that the low and high end of the tool’s adjustment for femur length shows unrealistic proportions, keep in mind that even if that button goes just a LITTLE bit towards the long femur end (or short end), this makes a notable difference in squat mechanics.
Plus, there actually are people who have thighs so long (or so short), that this is a noticeable feature of their physique. Some people are self-conscious of their “long-ass femurs” or “stubby thighs.”
Though the guy with the short legs (including very short femurs to tibia ratio) and super long torso may be envied for his potential squatting ability, it’s important to know that no one body type can excel in all physical feats.
You’ll be quite hard-pressed to find any short legged, long-torso athletes in the Olympic sprint lineups.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.