Mastering the Squat

Check out my latest blog post for Telegraph CrossFit!

Original post can be found here.

Baby Squat

Mastering the Squat

By: Jennifer Bearse

According to CrossFit HQ trainer Pat Sherwood, the squat is a fundamental movement, and is a building block to every other movement in CrossFit. “Do this well and everything else you do will fall into place,” he explains. “Do this poorly and everything else is going to be a little challenging for you.”

For such a seemingly simple exercise, the squat is fairly complex, and can expose a lot of mobility and stability weaknesses. Obtaining a “mature” squat can take many years of dedicated practice. Many of us tend to spend more time focusing on the more complex lifts, like the snatch and clean, before we have successfully mastered the fundamentals of the squat. While it is great to learn and spend time on the complex lifts, always re-visit and practice the basics often! Only with the mastery of basics can you efficiently progress toward the complex.

Some of the common faults of bad squats are:

Losing your neutral spine position
Knees caving in/rolling knees inside the feet
Bad set up (dropping head, shoulders, unstable base)
Not squatting low enough and breaking the parallel plane
Lifting your heels off the ground
Weak core muscles

How can you fix/address all of these common faults? By working on your mobility, stability, engagement of you posterior chain (i.e. glute/hams), and core strength!

If you’re having trouble getting deep into the “hole” in your squat, or in any other lifts for that matter, you need to work on mobilizing the muscles that surround your hips. When you move into deep hip flexion in the bottom of the squat and the muscles of your hips are stiffer than your low back (lumbar spine), you won’t be able to maintain a neutral spine. Foam rolling combined with dynamic and static flexibility work for all the muscles supporting the hips is important. Combining mobility and flexibility work with some serious core training, to improve midline stability and core control, will greatly improve your squat mechanics and ability to lift heavier weights. In addition, continuing to work on strengthening your glutes and hamstrings will help you to get lower in your squats and gain that powerful full hip extension, which will greatly help you in all of your athletic endeavors.

If you have any questions or issues regarding your squat technique or mobility, feel free to ask one of the coaches!

Now what are you waiting for? Go get squatting!

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