The Backbone of CrossFit: The Squat

The squat is one of the most fundamental movements in CrossFit.  Being able to master the squat will strengthen not only your ability to improve your athleticism, but also the quality of your life.  The squat benefits your balance, core strength, it increases muscle growth and develops joint support.  So I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to practice squatting.  Wall squats, air squats, overhead squats, they all will help, so practice practice practice!!! Before class, after class, practice!!!

Here are a few tips from on how to improve your squat:

-Staying tight in the mid section
This cue of core or midline stabilization is a key factor in any functional movement.  What I tell my athletes is for them to create an imaginary weight belt around their waist.  In order to turn it on they must activate their abdominals.  The image of the weight belt often helps with the understanding that the strength in their core is what is responsible for protecting their spine and maintaining their position.
-Big breath and hold
As a part of the tightening down of the core, I will coach athletes to take a big deep breath and hold it.  May sound simple enough, but many beginning athletes will not pay much attention to when (or if) they breathe.  This always reminds me of one of my closest friends and former college volleyball teammates who was an extremely aggressive and intense player.  She had all the talent of a top level athlete, but everyday in practice our coach had to remind her to breathe!  It was hilarious, yet a good reminder for me that even the most focused athlete may miss a key step…like breathing air.
-Load and explode
Ok we know I love alliteration when I write, well coaching cues that rhyme are like my next favorite thing.  We started saying “load and explode” at Valley Crossfit years ago.  I love it, yes, because it rhymes, and it creates the imagery you need for a successful squat.  Essentially when you are lowering the weight from the supported top position, you should imagine a metal spring that is being compressed down and is ready to pop up strong and fast.
-Knees out; powerful, quick hips
Coming up out of the bottom of the squat you need to concentrate on forcing your knees apart rather than letting them carry you forward and onto your quads.  Likewise, you need to utilize that aggressive hip extension to essentially “jump” that weight up to your full upright position at the top. While heavier weights might feel like they’re slowing you down, there is nothing slow about jumping.  So although you may appear to be struggling with a lift, every part of you is thinking “speed” as you drive through your heels to the top.

Monday’s Intermediate Skill:

Squat cleans

3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3

Workout of the Day (WOD):

5 rounds of:

7 squat cleans (135# for men/93# for women)
9 hand release push-ups
12 pull-ups

Beginner’s Skill

Run 400 meters x 3, rest 1 minute between.  Score total time running and rest.

Workout of the Day (WOD):

15 minute AMRAP:

5 knees to elbows
10 wall ball shots
15 sit-ups

Awesome job today!


8 responses to “The Backbone of CrossFit: The Squat

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