Master the Crossfit Squat to dominate workouts
If there is one movement you can associate with most of the CrossFit workouts, it’s a Crossfit Squat. Provided it’s not the most attractive position a person can take, it does form part of the core. With a good squat there is no limits to what you can achieve and newbies would be wise to place heavy focus on it. From your heels to your shoulders, a squat works just about every muscle in your body. Unfortunately it’s also one of the most intimidating movements, because a lot of elements go into making it such a powerful tool.
Crossfit Squat; Technique is Key
There are three key elements an effective and powerful technique is based on.
– Keeping your chest out
– Pulling your hips back
– Pushing out your knees
Is it the most comfortable position? Definitely not. In fact, it will feel a lot easier to simply squat straight down. What’s the difference? Unless you have an incredibly strong core, solid upper shoulder strength, topped off with amazing mobility in your ankles and hips, you’ll find it much easier to establish a vertical squatting pattern by pulling those hips back and driving those knees out.
Some good ways to help you get accustomed to this position is to practice wall and goblet squats. Just in case you don’t know what they entail, the wall squat sees you facing the wall and standing about 6 inches away. Now try squatting without letting your knees touch the wall. As for the goblet squat, you hold a kettlebell like a goblet in front of your body as you squat. These drills will help you to build stronger positioning.
Finding a Comfortable Bar Position
Don’t be scared to try different bar positions on your back, because it needs to be comfortable for you. Regardless of where you decide to put it, you are going to need to strengthen something somewhere. For example, a high bar position (the base of your neck) increases the distance between the hips and the bar. This means you have to work extra hard keeping your torso straight through good mobility in your ankles, hips and upper back. If you are struggling with mobility then you’ll probably tip forward as you’re coming down.
With a lower bar position the gap is slightly smaller and there is less torque in the hips. This also gives you a little more leverage. Ultimately you want to try and keep the bar vertical with the middle of your feet, which is the road to less resistance in a manner of speaking.
As basic or insignificant as it may sound, breathing correctly will help you go through a greater range of motions while maintaining a vertical torso angle. In this case you want your core to be as tight as possible. Try taking a deep breath and holding it before you go into the squatting position. This is going to expand your chest and your abdomen, putting a little extra tension on these areas. As you finish the squat take another deep breath. For every rep take a single breath.
Work on Your Upper Back
If you want to stay stable underneath the bar you are going to need a strong upper body. Getting it into the necessary shape requires:
– Pull ups
– Bent over rows
– Seated rows
– Chin ups
– Face pulls
– Band pull aparts
You’ll also want to incorporate a death grip on the bar, seeing as a tighter grip automatically tightens your arms, shoulders and upper back. If you are able to strengthen that upper back, take a deep breath and grip that bar as if your life depended on it, you should be able to build enough tension to stay in the right position as you finish the squat.
What if have enough strength in your upper back, but not in your hips? This will also make you tip forward seeing as your hips will probably shoot upward as you leave the hole at the bottom of the Crossfit Squat. The best way you can approach this is with some:
– Romanian deadlifts
– Rack pulls
– Good mornings
– Kettlebell or dumbell swings
Strengthening the hips has always, and will always be, very important when it comes to compound strength training. The key is to keep your torso in a straight position.
The last piece of the puzzle is ankle mobility, and another one of those difficult hurdles to overcome. If you’ve been to a box a few times then you’ll have noticed that some CrossFitters use a 10 lb plate underneath their heels. This helps them to maintain an upright torso angle, overcomes insufficient mobility, and strengthens new ranges of motion from the ankle. Given that you want to stay off the ball of your foot and only use your heels, you can also get some weightlifting shoes with firm soles and elevated heels.
If there is one mistake you should never make as a CrossFitter, it’s underestimating the importance of a strong and stable squat.