We Know Squat – Here’s How We Progress It

Posted: January 6, 2014 by dannytwoguns in Articles

(One initial side note – if you are reading this and you haven’t yet “liked” Twoguns Training Systems on FB, please do so on the left of this article. I’d appreciate it and will be doing more through the Twoguns Training Systems FB rather than mainly on the Danny Twoguns one. Thank you)

It is no secret that one of our favorite and most used implements at Twoguns Training Systems is the Ultimate Sandbag. But more importantly, is that our program design revolves around the DVRT (Dynamic Variable Resistance Training) system which at times, utilizes the Ultimate Sandbag. Last week I posted on What Exactly is DVRT? Here is an example of it in action and how it relates to how we progress the squat pattern at Twoguns Training Systems.

The system is more than just the Ultimate Sandbag, as its true beauty and versatility lie in the DVRT system. The squat is one of the most foundational movements we can do, not only for fitness but for function as well. By now we know the importance of squatting but far more people cannot do it compared to those who can.

When the average person hears squats, the majority of the time one of two things arise…

The first… “Squats hurt my knees…” My first reply is usually, most likely it is the way you squat that hurts your knees, not squats done correctly. Did you go to the bathroom today? Did you sit into a chair? A car? Squats shouldn’t hurt your knees. It likely is simply a strength issue. The way you squat could very well hurt your knees, but that’s exactly why we train it – to get you stronger and more stable so that it does not.

The second, which comes mostly from females… “Squats make my legs bulky…” This is one of those arguments that never goes away. Im one of the biggest proponents of the fact that lifting and lifting rather heavy will not make women bulky (Gen…), certainly not by accident and not even always with trying, unless there is some testosterone/steroid supplementation.

Bottom line, you should squat. And well, that works perfect because We Know Squat…


Here is the beauty in how we start and progress the squat pattern. In our system, inspired by DVRT, we have the ability to progress (and even regress) the squat without adding or decreasing weight/load. So if your knees are weak or you are afraid of lifting heavier weight (for whatever incorrect reason 😛 ) fear not, because we first make the exercises harder and more challenging to your core, stability and system overall before we add weight, even though it certainly comes after you’ve built the base and mastered the foundation.

So where do we start? First we use the Bearhug Squat to pattern the squat pattern. It forces you to not only engage your core but also the stabilizers and muscles of your upper back, in addition to forcing the “knees out,” where we are the most stable.

DVRT Herbe 4

After that we move to the Front Load Squat. Usually starting with less weight than the Bearhug Squat but still harder because the implement doesn’t “force” you into the correct form, your body and movement pattern have to learn how to engage the core, keep your elbows up, spread your knees/keep them from coming in and sit back into that good squat. We spend a fair amount of time here to master the position, getting strong and stable.

DVRT Herbe 2

From there, how can we progress it without adding more weight? Simple, change how you hold the implement. By putting the Ultimate Sandbag from the stable front load position to a shouldered position, we increase the demand not only on the core, obliques (love handles anyone… ) but also that squat pattern. The asymmetrical load is going to make your opposite hip/side compensate and you really have to focus on staying neutral and strong in that squat and resisting that force.

DVRT Herbe 3

At this point our squat is pretty good and the average client can most likely handle going up in weight and going back to the front load position if they are a beginner. But… once they have returned to the Shouldered Squat with a heavier weight (10-15 pounds heavier), we have another way to progress the exercise. It doesn’t involve more weight and it doesn’t involve changing the implement position. But it involves changing your stance.

DVRT Herbe

Enter one of my favorite squat progressions, the Shouldered Stagger Stance Squat. We set the toe of the opposite side of the Ultimate Sandbag in our normal squat stance width, except we line it up with the heel of the loaded side. This adds two asymmetrical forces working against us as we try to stabilize in that squat. There is a ton of bang for your squat buck in this exercise

From there we have a couple of options we can go from there, but with most people they get everything they need from their squat pattern with these progressions. You can mimic the front load position with a kettlebell or a dumbbell but the bearhug and shouldered position are more or less exclusive to the Ultimate Sandbag but all thanks to the DVRT system. And this of course assumes we are also working our lower body with single leg stance and split stance patterns, all of which are hip dominant or knee dominant.

As always, if you have any questions about what is discussed in the article, don’t hesitate to ask, either on here or on Facebook. And to train and progress your squat in action, check out the New Year New You, 8 week transformation challenge.

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