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Freakin' Awesome Exercise of the Day: Ape Stretch- Kasey Esser

Freakin’ Awesome Exercise of the Day: The Ape

I think I have mentioned this on the blog before, but my squat blows.


Well, at least, it used to.


Freakin' Awesome Exercise of the Day: Ape Stretch- Kasey Esser


I don’t know what it is, but I always had a rock-solid hip hinge.  And I guess that took up all of my movement talent reserves because when I went to squat, it was like someone was pushing UP on me and preventing me from hitting depth.


I remember a coach I used to work with taking me through some DNS squat patterning and I about blew a lung and rectum simultaneously.


Yeah…think about what that could potentially feel like for a second.

Not cool.


I despised my lack of squat ability, because…I mean, come on, I’m a fitness professional.  If I want my clients to master all the basic movement patterns, I need to be able to dominate them, as well.


So I hammered away on my mobility and got out of my “if it’s not a powerlift, it didn’t happen” mindset.

Freakin' Awesome Exercise of the Day: Ape Stretch- Kasey Esser

And thankfully, it got me to where I needed to be.  By no means is it world-class, but it’s an acceptable 2 on the FMS.


Alwyn Cosgrove told me I had a beautiful squat at Perform Better last year (it was a goblet squat, but still), so I think that gave me some confidence and helped me realize I wasn’t a hopeless cause.


When it comes to attacking one’s squat ability, as with any movement correction, there are many routes you can go.


The question is –


What do you focus on to get from point A to point B the fastest?


That’s what I’m always asking myself these days when it comes to program design.  I don’t have hours upon hours to write amazing training programs, so the key has been cutting the fluff and relying on the things that I know will work well.


When it comes to improving the squat, if you can attack mobility and stability simultaneously, that’s probably your best bet.


That’s why I have been using the following exercise in nearly all of my clients’ training programs.  I stole it from a good friend and colleague of mine, Tilita Lutterloh, who is in a lot of the videos I put on the site.


She is also becoming an Instagram celebrity with her epic yoga moves, check her out @tilitalutterloh


The Ape


Tilita used the movement in Jess’s program (she is her trainer…works out much better than when I tried out for that role) and when I tried it on my own, I was like,


“Oooooookaaayyyyyyyy!!!  I’m feeling this.”


The Ape is quite the glorious exercise because not only does it effectively get even the tightest people into a deep squat (as evidenced by Jess), but it also does a great job at giving the arms and core a good workout.

Check it out;


The other cool thing is if you struggle to get into the proper position right off the bat, that’s ok!

Just keep doing it, attempting to get just a little further each time.  It will work.


Start with a wider than shoulder-width stance if you need some help and work to gradually narrow your stance to within shoulder-width.

I recommend doing your first few sets next to a mirror.  This is because it can become easy to lose awareness of your posture.

What can feel like great posture may actually not look that way when you take a glance at the mirror!

Lastly, I like to use this drill as a “filler” in between sets of barbell squats or you can use it as a regular part of your warm-up…or both!


Give it a shot in your next training session and let me know what you think!


Dominate All Life,

Kasey, CSCS


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