ROTFL with the RFESS


Is the Boylegarian leg exercise the new front squat? We are back full circle with spinal loading with a split squat but that is another argument. Now I have nothing against Mike Boyle advocating single leg biased exercises but the math is not adding up. The RFESS (rear foot elevated split squat) is not a single leg exercise but more like a 1.5 leg exercise. I would bet that none of his freshman can go and do single leg squats to below parallel with 115 pounds x 15 reps with a 2 second eccentric as he can with the RFESS. I would like to see video of that one and see the pelvic position. It’s not the same. In his functional strengthcoach 3.0 teaser film Mike shares that his belief that the squat is dead. He has every right to say so as I do believe that in team sports you can get away with very little squatting or with none at all, but in absolute sports with nothing to hide such as Olympic sports something must be maximal as we have world records and standards to be judged by. Our sport is their (team sports) combine.

Mike has every right to change his mind but I think the back and front squats being removed is too absolutist and extreme. It’s easier coaching wise, especially with big numbers but in the long run testing your core and glute strength with back squats and spine is a great option. Squatting is a demanding exercise and removing it for an easier option is one step above using machines. The squat when doing it overhead is a great test, and when loaded it is a measuring stick for spinal health and posterior core strength. As a coupling agent, the spinal erectors are great if used as a stabilizer (not prime mover) but not developing the low back in harmony with the legs seems to be limiting the athlete with absolute force qualities. Is the RFESS worth trying? Yes, as it’s a good exercise. It is a squat replacement? No.

Like the olympic lifts, the burden of having athletes backsquat (or frontsquat) forces coaches to problem solve many possible issues if they are not forcing the exercise down the throats. I think that Mike should be complimented on his efforts to experiment as it’s not easy taking risks in program design. Still, we can deduce some progress without trials as gravity, anatomy, and the brain have not changed much in 30 years.
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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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