We know it's important. We've heard all the cues. The basics are repeated so often it could make you nauseous- knees out, heals down, chest up, butt back. I've gotten looks from athletes after repeating these cues that could send chills down your spine. So let me explain.
Let's delve into how we can improve the squat- but first, let me back up. You have to WANT to fix your squat (assuming you want to move better) you'll need to put in the work. Take time before, class, after class, at home when you're favorite TV show goes to commercial, when you first wake up, before you go to bed- whenever. I know you're busy, we all are. Ten minutes a day! Just put in a minimum of ten minutes a day and I promise you your squat will improve, not to mention your overall health- I'll bet Starbucks on it.
So how? Getchya popcorn, I'm gona learn you somethin'…
#1 Work Your Technique
Take a breath, this will sound familiar.. Those cues I alluded to earlier, knees out, butt back, heels, chest up- guess what, they work. But hammer them home. Do air squats whenever you can, slowly, with perfect form. Don't get discouraged- they get better. Knees out creates torque in the hip. Butt back uses the most powerful part of the body, the posterior chain. Your glutes, hamstrings, and erectors can move incredible loads when activated. When you send your butt back and keep weight on the heels, you have to use those muscles. Chest up, why? Try hitting a snatch, clean, or overhead squat without a vertical torso- or just watch me oly lift. It's not pretty, but it's a work in progress…
#2 Mobilize, Mobilize, Mobilize
Flexibility is a nasty (good nasty) tool to have in your arsenal. Sit in the bottom of your air squat, use your elbows to press your knees outward and open your hips. Olympic wall squats are a great way to open your hips in a perfect bottom-of-the-squat position. Get familiar with resistance bands- hip and ankle distractions manipulate joints, not just stretch muscles. That's key to mobilizing. ASK A COACH. We may not know all the answers individually, but we sure can figure stuff out together.
#3 Back Up
Not literally. It's a rare occasion when I'm completely serious all the time. What I mean is strengthen your back. Working your erectors (muscles supporting the lumbar spine) help in creating a strong core. Deadlifts, hip extensions, and good mornings. Start with a PVC and work up from there. Don't neglect your upper back either. Work bent over rows, pullups, ring rows, etc.
#4 Belly Up
Again, not literally. Do not neglect your abdominals- even if you're not close to that allusive six pack. Do planks, abmat situps, GHD situps, and turkish getups. Strong abs are essential to a strong core. Not building rockets with that one.
#5 Go Heavy
Disclaimer- we encourage heavy squats occasionally but they must be done carefully. Great form in a heavy squat is vital. Work the basics previously mentioned in this post before jumping right into heavy back squats. Once you feel ready, have a coach analyze your squat. If it all looks cool, load up. Once a week, go about 90% of your 1RM for 3-5 sets of 1-2 reps. This will get you comfortable moving heavy weight, and improve just about every aspect of CrossFit. Plus, bikini season is coming.
Now, drop it low.