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More info about China and the “ChuanFu Squats”

I’ve a friend, Yatin who’s currently training in China, Beijing national training center. I believe Ma Jianping got him in there. You need insiders to bring you into places like such.

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The entrance to many weightlifter’s dream

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That’s a 48KG girl squatting 130KG for sets of doubles

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This guy’s rumoured to have a 350KG back squat.

Not terribly hard to believe.

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Hope you’re liking what you see.

I got all these pictures from my friend, Yatin’s instagram. Go check it out.

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Above all, I think this is an important screenshot. A lot of people, think that Chinese do things based on how they feel and merely traditional knowledge. That is entirely untrue. There are differences in ways of each Chinese coach depending on the province, whether north or south, whether they were schooled by the Russians, or were they schooled by coaches, after the Russian generation, what their own experiences were.

All sorts of things. But one thing is certain, the research institution will study all factors and advice what is the best conclusion they’ve come up to. They do have research. In fact, their research is, top effing notch.

Okay, before that, I also found a video of Dan Green who’s squatted a ton of weight.

I’m really glad that he posted this video up shortly after I’ve been discussing it and all. I also like that he’s gotten a ton of likes for it and not a single dislike, so it’s clear that people agree to this idea. It just depends who says it eh? :)

Here’s a story. I was at a temple once and a monk once said to me this sentence;

You must know, why people do something. If you don’t, don’t have to follow it. Like incense burning, Buddha never said that was necessary. Bowing down and making various hand gestures as signs of respect to the Buddha’s statue. That is, culture. Find the answer, not follow the crowd“. I kid you not, that monk actually said, “Bowing down and making various hand gestures as signs of respect“. He wanted me to understand that, I didn’t have to follow the crowd if I didn’t agree.

Now since then, I’ve always believed in finding out why. It’s hard, when you try to spread a different idea, but you really have to focus on the positive believers. The nay-sayers will be that. It’s just the way people are. It’s not bad or good.

Today, I got someone running up to me on Facebook, telling me that Kelly Starrett says that it creates stability in the hips, knees and ankles. He then asks if we can create such stability with the knees collapsing and because if we do not create stability, it’ll load the stress somewhere else, eg the knees.

I suppose I should clarify a little more in layman words since I’ve gotten more info out from the motherland.

Now before we go around doing more of the Chuanfu squats, let’s discuss first why we recommend such squats.

  • It is not a collapse
  • It is a deliberate channeling of the load into the quadriceps of the body

    There is a difference between the body compensating and collapsing the knee because of glute weakness. What we are suggesting, is maximizing stability by loading the quads for maximum quad recruitment and stress, which leads to development beyond what can be created if we spread the load to other joints.

    This is because we believe that the fastest way to stand up from a heavy load is to move in the straightest line. By shifting the entire load into the quads, we are able to create this sort of movement more effectively.

    Alternately, if you’re an individual with insufficient ankle flexibility, push your groin outwards to increase the tension into the adductors which helps you maintain the rigidity of your entire body while descending

  • It is the body’s natural way of moving

    A lot of people say to spread the knees out, push knees out, externally rotate the hip joint. What we have found is when you do that, you force the hip joint to really be pushed to its limits. When this happens, there is limited space for it to move so to create the space, your body has 2 options. Push the knees in slightly to create space for the hip capsule to move. Or shoot your knees and hips backwards while your torso goes forward to create that space.I have a friend whom I consider to be a very smart and talented lifter. He was complaining saying that he didn’t have quads and was on a squat program to build quads. I’m not sure how its gone but he had some pretty sick squats just no quads. He’s also got another friend, who has massive quads and he has a distinctly different way from this other friend of mine. About the same squat numbers.

    What I did realise with the two of them is, the one with the smaller quads would keep the knees out as hard as he could, just like I always did. The other friend, just tried to stand up straight.

    In fact, a stroll around the streets of China and even parts of Southeast Asia will show you people squatting to have their meals, like its the most natural thing in the world to do. They never squat knees out. They just squat knees wherever it decides to go, eat their meals, wash the veggies, tie their shoes, etc and just stand up straight naturally.Somewhere somehow, someone must have noticed this and found a fantastic marketeer and began teaching this as the “Safest” way for most people to do it.

  • It is not a compensating movement

    What I mean by this is, the movement isn’t like I’m saying, push your knees till they both touch each other sort. What I’m suggesting is to push it a small bit so they create space for your hips to drive right through and help you stand right back up.It isn’t like the knees drop in, and you stand up at the expense of the knees. I would never suggest such a thing.
  • It reduces activation of the glutes

    Or does it really? This is what everyone tells me, but I don’t understand. Why does one care so much about the muscles muscles muscles? As long as the loading mechanics are correct, we minimize the potential for injury, and the movement pattern is good, why are we so concerned about muscles?Now if you’re truly concerned about muscles, maybe this is unscientific, maybe this is unprofessional, but my butt has …well..not shrunk in size and I do get a sore bum unlike that when I squatted knees out.

So how do I use this?

  1. Stand straight, feet slightly wider than hips
  2. Point your toes wherever you like, as long there is no pain in any of the joints
  3. Keep your torso neutral, and no hyperextending of the back
  4. Load the adductors as you descend into the squats.This automatically shifts the weights out for maximum stability and allows the adductors to tense up taking the load of the squats as you descend. This mind-cue is to enable the body to have a place to load the weight, and not shift all around finding for a joint to load.This is what I believe Kelly of mobilitywod.com talks about.Creating stability. The knee out cue works for most people, but I went deeper to analyze what that symptom created. So far I’ve been very successful with it as I’ve almost eliminated all forms of lower body pains that I used to have previously, ESPECIALLY hip flexor pain. –
  5. As your adductors are all ready, push the knee in slightly at the lowest position to help the body stand in a straight line. Finish by punching the hip through and keeping the knees back tracking to the toes again.

What are the benefits I have found personally, to switching to this technique?

  1. Elimination of any form of knee pain and hip pain for the first time in ages, since I stopped pushing knees out
  2. Increased recruitment of my quads and my glutes
  3. Increased flexibility in my ankles and my trunk is realigning. It used to be tighter on the right, it’s looser now.
  4. An automatic increase by 20KG in my squats (I kid you not)
  5. Easily repping out more reps in each set

Now, enjoy the ChuanFu Squats!


13 replies
    • Mike
      Mike says:

      He means push knees out as going down, so you can knee in when coming back up. To “load” is to lengthen the muscle – you’re prepping to contract/shorten. Adductors bring things closer to the middle of your body, so for hips it’s on the inside of your legs.

  1. celicaxx
    celicaxx says:

    Hey, Kirksman. Question. I’m wondering if with your ankles, if during your ankle adaptation time (you said you used to need shoes then squatted without shoes and were fine?) if your ankles ever hurt. As now I can squat flat footed no problem, but I’m wondering if my “ankle stretching” consisted basically of squatting. As sometimes I get little aches and stuff in my ankles I’ve not gotten before really (though when I first started going ATG, I had some pain more above my ankles on the sides?) but now it seems the pain is right on the sides of the ankles, if that makes sense. I mean, the side pain just went away eventually, I’m hoping this little ache goes away, but I’m wondering if it’s normal. I’m not using lifting shoes, either. Also I can overhead squat with minimal heel rise in Converse, too, so I’m happy about that.

    Also, back when I used to point my ankles out like \ / or really badly, more like _ _ ala Mark Rippetoe, I had pain on the outside tendons in the back of my knees. However now with a closer stance and less drive from the heel and more midfoot drive, I feel like I get a little bit (though less completely utterly disastrous than that old pain) of pain towards the front of my knee on the inside, like inner quad muscle?

    Can you relate to these little aches at all? I mean they’re not huge deals or anything, but yeah.

    Thanks very much!

    Also, do you know of any Chinese weightlifting shoes that are good that aren’t being sold stateside?

  2. tim
    tim says:

    Where do you feel the load on your foot? (middle, front, heel). I am currently not wearing lifting shoes as I am trying to work on ankle flexibility (if you think that wearing minimalist shoes does or does not improve flexibility while lifting please inform). My right ankle is extremely tight. If I shift my weight to the ball of my foot and just squat down, I can get into the exact position you’re talking about. However, my heels are about three inches off the ground. Is your position with and without shoes the same? I am starting to think, work from this position with light weight until my heels start coming down. The minute my heels are loaded my torso falls forward ass goes back. Back pain knee pain follows. So guess what I am asking is squatting on the ball of foot with light weight bad or good? And does this seem like a good progression? thanks


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  1. […] you’ve already been exposed to the idea of a squatting and pushing the knees in at a particular portion of the squat instead of pushing it out. You’ve been exposed to the […]

  2. […] This is interesting, please read if you care about squatting. Chuanfu squats […]

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