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How to do the Squat Get Up

By Peri Zourides, MovNat Team Instructor

The Squat Get Up is a fun, practical movement that should be a staple in your Natural Movement practice. For many students, this simple Get Up is harder than it looks because they’ve never learned how to perform it efficiently. But by gaining the requisite mobility and using some smart progressions, you’ll be getting up safely and efficiently in no time – and improving your fitness every time you do.

“Wait, you want me to do what?”

This is often a response I’ve heard when first asking people if they can, or if they have used the Squat Get Up as a practical movement to get up from the ground.

A number of studies, including a recent one from Brazil, have highlighted the importance of being able to get up and down without using your hands as an indicator of life span. But in a practical sense, the Squat Get Up is useful in a situation where a body weight transfer is needed to stand up quickly. For example, holding an object or small child and getting up without using the hands, or rocking up quickly to get away from danger.

For many people, even younger folks, there is a hesitancy in doing this, with or without an object to carry. That hesitancy results in using the hands to “brake and support” the body in lowering or raising. While there are practical movements that use your hands to get up and down from the ground (i.e. a Prone Power Get Up or Sprawl), more often than not on a daily basis, we want to do so hands free. So, let’s learn how to do that.

Here is an instructional video with some step by step progressions to learn the Squat Get Up.

How to Learn the Squat Get Up

Begin your practice on a soft surface, and in time, progress to firmer surfaces. You don’t want to bruise your lower back, hips or spine and be unable to use this movement when needed.

Also, if a comfortable Deep Squat is not accessible to you right now, you will need to work on this first before progressing too quickly in the Squat Get Up. Exercises such as Hang Support, Finger Hand Support and Elevated Heel Support will assist your squat mobility (see video below).

Step 1) Seated, Supine Breathing

It’s always important to take time and focus on your breathing before any skill practice and workout. This helps in calming the mind, bringing more awareness to your body and avoiding moving into pain.

Focus on breathing in a seated position as well as lying on your back.

Take 5-8 deep breaths in each position.

Step 2) Seated, Supine Back Rocking 

From a seated position, lightly round your spine and begin rocking back. Transferring your weight from hips to your upper back. You’re holding this crunch position and starting to generate momentum back and forth.

The amplitude of the rocking can progress, but do not roll onto the head and neck.

Perform 5-10 reps of each technique.

Step 3) Supine Rocking to 1-Leg Tuck

Hip mobility can be an issue in performing the Squat Get Up. You can help improve this by adding in a single leg tuck. As you come up to sitting from rocking back, hold your shin and pull the leg into yourself. Apply reasonable pressure, but don’t strain the leg.

Perform 4-6 reps each side.

Step 4) Supine Rocking to “Pop” Squat

I’ve found that a number of people initially struggle to stop in the squat after transferring their weight off their back. So, “popping” helps to improve the tension needed, as initially, you may not be able to brace and stop in the squat.

With practice, the popping up reduces as you becomes more stable in the bottom of the squat. Increased ankle and hip mobility also play a role in this so that you can hold a better position.

Perform 5-10 reps.

Step 5) Standing to Squat Rock

Even though this is a GET UP technique, you also need to GET DOWN. Reverse engineering the movement helps improve timing and sequencing. From standing, lower your center of gravity as deep as you can in a squat, allowing your back to naturally round. As it makes contact with the ground, keep it rounded and roll down slowly.

Return to standing using an efficient technique, i.e Tripod Get Up

Perform 4-6 repetitions.

 Step 6) Standing to Squat Rock (weighted)

A light weight can help with counter balancing in the Deep Squat, improving your mobility and stability. Use a medicine ball, kettlebell, or any natural object like a small rock.

From standing, lower your center of gravity to the ground and round your spine to rock back. Reverse the movement and get into the squat, holding for a few seconds, and then standing up.

Perform 4-6 reps.

Step 7) Squat Get Up (Body weighted and Weighted) 

Okay, let’s put this all together! At this stage, don’t overthink it – just do it. Make sure your surrounding environment is safe and you don’t trip or rock back onto something. You may fall on your butt practicing this for the first time. So, don’t be discouraged. Practice mindfully with low repetitions.

Like all natural movements that you haven’t done in awhile, don’t force your body into positions it’s not used to. Allow time for adaptation, and most importantly, have fun in your practice.

Common Mistakes

Lastly, here are some inefficiencies to be aware of:

  • Rolling too far back onto the head or neck, instead of the shoulders
  • Using the hands to push off the ground in order to slow your descent or “pop” yourself up
  • Knees collapsing inwards, instead of maintaining proper vertical alignment

Here is another video to address these common inefficiencies. I also provide some assisted exercises if you’re struggling with the basic technique.

Happy moving, happy getting up, happy life! ☺

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About the Author

Peri Zourides is a MovNat Team Instructor and the owner of Seven Star Energy Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is a multi-disciplined training facility that offers Natural Movement, kettlebells, calisthenics, martial arts, rehabilitation treatment and mindfulness training. Peri has a background playing in competitive football and basketball as well as coaching both sports. He’s trained and taught traditional Kung Fu and Tai Chi, has been certified through StrongFirst as a Bodyweight and Level 2 Kettlebell instructor, and also facilitates corporate wellness programs.

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