· By David Thurin
Mastering the Dragon Squat: A Step-by-Step Guide to Improved Flexibility and Strength
Ever heard of the dragon squat? If you're already nailing pistol squats and looking for the next cool move to add to your workout repertoire, the dragon squat might just be your next challenge. It's not just about brute strength – this exercise is a fantastic blend of flexibility and power.
So, if you're curious about how to master this impressive move, stick around. I'm going to break it down for you, making it as easy as pie. Well, easier than eating pie while doing a dragon squat, anyway!
What is a Dragon Squat?
The dragon squat is like the secret level in a video game – it looks intimidating but is super rewarding once you get the hang of it.
Picture this: it's kind of like a pistol squat, but with a twist – literally. In a dragon squat, one leg does the heavy lifting, while the other wraps around it, almost like you’re trying to tie a knot with your legs.
But here's the kicker – it's not just about how much you can lift. The dragon squat is a fantastic way to test and improve your flexibility, balance, and strength, all at the same time. It's like a multitasking exercise for your muscles.
First Steps: Building Flexibility
Before you jump into the dragon squat, let's talk flexibility. You know how important it is, right? Let’s start with the Figure Four Stretch. It’s your ticket to getting that leg over the thigh in the dragon squat.
Here’s how to do it:
- Sit down or stand up, whichever feels more comfortable.
- Cross one ankle over the opposite thigh, just above the knee.
- Gently press down on the crossed knee to deepen the stretch. You’ll feel this in your hip and glutes – that’s the sweet spot.
- Keep your back straight. Think about elongating your spine towards the sky.
Now, a pro tip – don’t let your tailbone lift into the air. It's tempting to cheat a little, but keeping your tailbone grounded makes the stretch more effective. You're aiming to feel a deep stretch, not to win a limbo contest. So, take it slow, breathe, and let your muscles ease into the stretch.
Advanced Stretching: The Modified Pigeon Pose
Alright, now that you've got the hang of the Figure Four Stretch, let's notch up the flexibility training with the Modified Pigeon Pose. This one's a game-changer for building strength in those stretched-out muscles, crucial for nailing the dragon squat.
How to do the Modified Pigeon Pose:
- Step 1. Start in a Plank Position: Begin like you're about to do a regular plank. Keep your hands firmly planted on the ground, shoulder-width apart.
- Step 2. Bring Your Knee Forward: Gently bring one knee forward, placing it behind your wrist. Your ankle should be near the opposite hip.
- Step 3. Slide Your Other Leg Back: Extend your other leg behind you, keeping it straight. The top of your foot should rest on the ground.
- Step 4. Square Your Hips: This is key. Keep your hips square to the front of your mat or room. It’s tempting to let the hip of the bent leg hike up, but resist that urge. Keeping your hips level will deepen the stretch.
- Step 5. Stay Upright or Lean Forward: Depending on your comfort and flexibility level, either stay upright, hands planted next to your hips, or lean forward, resting your forearms or even your forehead on the ground.
- Step 6. Hold and Breathe: Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds to a minute, breathing deeply. You should feel a deep stretch in your glutes and the outer thigh of the bent leg.
- Step 7. Repeat on the Other Side: Gently come out of the pose, switch legs, and repeat.
This modified version of the pigeon pose is brilliant for building strength in a stretched position. It targets those hard-to-reach muscles that you need for the dragon squat.
Putting it Together: Practicing the Movement
Now that your muscles are getting supple and strong with those stretches, it’s time to put it all together and start practicing the actual dragon squat movement.
This part is all about getting comfortable with the motion and learning how to use your foot for support.
Steps to Practice the Dragon Squat Movement:
- Start with a Solid Base: Begin in a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart. This is your starting block, your launch pad.
- Lower Down Slowly: As you begin to squat down on one leg, keep the other foot on the ground for now. Think of it as a training wheel. It’s there to give you a little bit of support and balance.
- Shift Your Weight: As you squat down, shift your weight onto the squatting leg. Keep the other leg's foot lightly touching the ground. You’re not putting your full weight on it, just a gentle touch.
- Use Your Foot for Support: Now, as you get lower in the squat, use that lightly touching foot as a support. It’s like having a spotter when lifting weights. You’re doing the work, but there’s a little help.
- Gradually Reduce the Support: Here’s where the magic happens. Gradually, start reducing the support from that foot. Try to rely more on the strength and balance of your squatting leg. It’s a bit like learning to ride a bike without training wheels.
- Practice Consistently: Like any skill, this takes practice. Don’t rush it. Go at your own pace, and gradually you’ll find that you need that supporting foot less and less.
As you practice these steps, remember to keep your form in check. It’s not just about getting down low; it’s about doing it with the right technique. Soon, you'll find that you can do a dragon squat with less and less help from the ground. It’s all about building that strength and balance, step by step.
Mastering the dragon squat is a journey of strength, flexibility, and balance. It's about challenging your body and pushing your limits. Remember, every great achievement starts with a decision to try.
So, take these steps, practice regularly, and you'll be amazed at what your body can accomplish. Stay strong, stay flexible, and most importantly, have fun with it! Stay Flexy!