The Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat is a great progression for one of my favorite bodyweight training subjects, single leg squat training. This is a fairly advanced exercise that will help you in your training for the Shrimp Squat, which is in itself an impressive variation of the Pistol Squat. In the GBT System, both the Shrimp and Pistols Squats are what we call “Pinnacle Exercises.” I frequently talk about the Pinnacle Exercises as being the primary goal for a particular tier skill level within each movement pattern. For example, an advanced exerciser might be working toward the Handstand Push-Up for Vertical Pushing Patterns; someone training in a lower difficulty tier might be working toward the Single-Arm Push-Up for Horizontal Pushing Patterns. The point is that there is a specific goal. You don’t start out at the Pinnacles, though – you need to progress through a series of increasingly advanced variations before you can perform these advanced moves.
The Shrimp Squat
The Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat is a valuable progression on your way to performing the full Shrimp Squat, a more advanced single-leg squat. So, what the hell is a Shrimp Squat, anyway? In the Shrimp Squat, the non-squatting leg is flexed completely at the knee to the point that you can grab your ankle and pull the heel towards the glute. This resembles a standing quad stretch. Holding the ankle, you would squat down until the bent knee touches the ground, and then stand back up. The name comes from the resemblance of the flexed knee curve to a shrimp. But don’t let the name fool you – this is a monster of an exercise!
Benefits of the Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat
While there are many variations of Pistols and Pistol lead-up exercises, the Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat covered in this tutorial is a “hip dominant” Single Leg Get-Up version with a lot of carry-over to learning the full Pistol.
Single Limb Training
Single Limb Training is an extremely effective tool for continuing to progress in a particular pattern. This is one of several basic principles about bodyweight progressions that you’ll hear me frequently emphasize in articles and in the GBT Bodyweight Athlete workshops.
One technique in beginning single limb training is to shift more weight to the target limb, creating an asymmetric load. For example, in a Horizontal Pushing Pattern (Push-Up), you’d create an asymmetric load by keeping one arm completely straight. This would take the elbow extensors (Tricep) out of the equation, increasing the load at the target arm. You’re essentially putting the straight arm at a “mechanical disadvantage”. That’s why an Archer Push-Up (see tutorial here) would be one of the many exercise progressions when leading up to the Single-Arm Push-Up.
The same idea is utilized in the Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat. We are using the opposite limb for limited assistance. In this exercise, the non-target leg is used for assistance on the way down, but taken out of the equation on the way up.
Increasing Flexibility Through Movement
The Shrimp Squat is a great variation amongst the lead-up exercises to the Pistol Squat, which we consider a Pinnacle Exercises in our GBT system. A clean Pistol Squat gets a lot of respect, and for good reason. It requires not only the strength of the muscles surrounding the hips, knee and ankle, but also the stability at all of those joints. In addition, you’ve got all the muscles that need to stabilize the spine. So, not only does it require an incredible amount of strength and stability, but also the available Range of Motion or flexibility/mobility at all of those regions. In fact, one of the most common limiting factors in a full Pistol is ankle mobility. The picture below illustrates the extreme angles of the hip knee and ankle that necessitate a great deal of flexibility and mobility.
Frequently, one may have the available range of motion at the hip and knee, but lack it at the ankle. This may be due to the muscles of the calve, tension at the Achilles tendon or even the fascial tissue under the foot! So how do you address these ROM issues? Traditionally you might focus on statically stretching the soleus or foam rolling, which are all effective strategies. However, I’m a big advocate of increasing ROM through movement, causing adaptation out of necessity. That’s exactly why the Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat is such a great lead-up to the Pistol. It’s the second phase of the exercise (hinging at the hips and loading the front leg) that will improve ankle dorsiflexion.
Executing the Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat
One of the most important components of any single leg progression is to “stay rigid.” This holds particularly true in observing any type of deep single leg Squat. If the rest of the body loses connection or loses it’s rigidity, then the squatting leg has to compensate for the unstable body, seriously increasing the potential for injury. If the rest of the body stays tight, then the squatting leg can do its job much more efficiently. That’s why you’ll hear me say “set” which simply means to connect everything so there aren’t any leaks of energy. This is encouraged at the top of the movement, but also when hinging forward at the hips in the get-up phase of the Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat. It’s important to mentally and physically set the body before you begin the get up.
- Begin in a standing position with the arms forcefully reaching forward, engaging the Triceps, Lats and Serratus.
- Step back in a short lunge position.
- Slowly flex both knees, bringing the back knee down to touch the ground.
- Simultaneously hinge forward at the hips while flexing the back knee even further.
- The arms should be angled down towards the ground.
- “Set” the entire body before attempting to lift the back knee from the ground.
- Fully extend the hips and knee until you are standing completely erect again.
You’ll want to focus on keeping the squatting hip, knee and ankle all in alignment. A mirror or video is a great visual reference to make sure that the knee doesn’t cave inward or bow out to the side too much.
As always, perfect practice makes perfect. The Shrimp Squat is but one variation of the single leg squat and the Reverse Lunge Shrimp Squat is an extremely valuable tool for eventually reaching a full Pistol. If you want to Squat more weight, put a little effort into your single leg squat training!
More on Progressive Bodyweight Training for Pistol Squats
Want to learn more about skills-based, progressive bodyweight training? Check these out:
Bodyweight Athlete Workshops
you’ll explore progressive, skills-based bodyweight training with
GBT creator Mike Fitch.
The Pistol Squat is one of three Pinnacle Exercises
covered in the workshop.
More Pistol Squat Variation Tutorials from GBT:
On the road to the Pistol
(Read full article here)
For even more complexity and balance
(Read full article here)