Squats-Don't Ride The Line

I have been asked many times about squatting below parallel.  For this response, I am going to move beyond all the Old School thought processes on why squatting below parallel is bad for the knees.  We have moved well beyond that and know it is BS.  It has been proven incorrect time and time again by professionals way smarter than me.  Instead, I want to focus on the performance aspect of the squat.

The squat is arguably the most fundamental movement for building strength. It is also the most aerobic of all the barbell movements for developing cardiovascular endurance when coupled with a press, such as everyone's favorite, the Thruster or a even a Wall Ball.

In competition, specifically the sport of fitness, as we know it...Crossfit. There are certain standards to adhere to when performing any variation of the squat.  The common denominator being that we strive to achieve a full range of motion.  In the squat, the hip crease is below the horizontal plane of the knee and upon standing the hips and knees are fully locked out.  This serves two purposes:

One cannot perform those lame ¼ squats and claim they are the fittest on earth.  To achieve that title you must perform them to the above standard and be more efficient at them.

Additionally, we are working on developing our metabolic capacity.  The best way to do that is to move full range and not cut corners.  This is essentially the same as doing 9 reps instead of the 10 that were prescribed.  Really, in the end you are only hurting your own progress.

The grey area here is that fine line between a good rep that sits just below parallel and the one that goes all the way down.  YES, if it is below parallel it counts and you could claim your title!  But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and spend that prize money just yet.  Our goal in our trainings is to increase metabolic capacity, right?  By stopping short we are actually destroying efficiency which is a key component to building our capacity.

Here is the magic bullet.  All that energy used to slow or stop the load and change direction at the precise moment of hip crease half and inch below parallel is killing your performance.  Also, if you are wrong by half and inch because you are in the 10th minute of a 12 minute AMRAP, where your judgement and body awareness is a little off, you know: that moment when you start to ask yourself if you are on round 5 or 6 or rep 9 or 10?  Congrats you just earned a NO REP which was an entire waste of time and energy.  Good thing you have a judge to guide you through that whole process because logical thinking ended about 8-9 minutes ago.

Instead of trying to ride the line or toe the edge of what is acceptable shouldn’t we be focusing on it NOT being questionable?  I don’t think many of us intentionally got just the right amount wrong so we still had and A in Math.

Your muscles have some elasticity to them for a reason and that reason is not because God said you will be sore someday and you will need to stretch!  By squatting all the way down well below parallel you are tapping into the amazing rebounding ability of your muscle fibers which can help launch you out of that hole using far less energy as the slow down or hit the brakes and change direction method described earlier.

If this can be achieved I would venture to say you just increased your metabolic capacity a little.  That 8-9 minute Karen time may just become sub 7.

To prove my point, take your right hand and place it over your heart, now lift your middle finger and hit your chest as hard as you can with it.  Ouch, hahaha.  Might as well have been a fly landing on you.  Now with your left thumb pull your right middle finger back as far as you can without hurting yourself and let it snap back down to your chest.  Congratulations, your middle finger is more functional than you thought!

The squat-in all of it’s glory and many different applications is only effective if performed correctly and with a full range of motion.  It may take a little mobility work to get there but thank God we have the ability to stretch.


The Open: Why you need to do it.

New year, new Open! The regular season of CrossFit is about to begin. Some of you that have been in the game for a while are wondering if you’re going to register this year. Some of you that are new are nervous about the prospect of competing against and in front of all your peers. Here’s some universal advice and insight about the Open that applies to both groups.

  1. The Open is about YOU. The Open is an opportunity to compete against the only person that you need to worry about competing against; yourself. The Open is a place to test your fitness. If you’ve been around for a while, you use the Open to determine if you’ve improved. If you’re new, you’re setting a baseline that you can look back at for years to come. There’s no reason to worry about how you place within the gym, region, or world, how well you stack up against the other people in class… The Open is YOU VS YOU.

  2. The Open is FUN. Go to our CrossFit 307 Facebook page and look back through the photo albums from past Opens. Sure, you’ll see lots of pictures of people looking like they’re about to hurl, but I promise you that every one of those people had some serious fun throughout the Open.

  3. The Open is about INSPIRATION. We, in this box, are part of a select group within society. We are lucky to be surrounded here by people that care about health and fitness, but the moment you step outside our box you’ll see how unhealthy the general population is. You are in a unique position to inspire anyone around you just by showing up and competing in the Open. Regular folks outside the fitness world will see pictures and posts of you competing, and you may just inspire someone to take their first venture into our box. The Open ends up being a pretty visible event particularly on social media. You have the opportunity to compete and potentially inspire anyone on your friends list. The CrossFit Games are cool, but changing the life of someone you know for the better and healthier is significantly cooler.

  4. The Open is about OUR FUTURE. If you’re a parent, nothing is cooler to your kids than coming in and seeing mom or dad compete. They won’t know what’s going on, or if you’re beating the person in the next lane… but if they see you busting your butt and having a good time, they’re going to learn some valuable life lessons and love you even more than they did before. There will be kids from around town coming in to watch this year, and seeing their parents, parent's friends, teachers, etc. competing will inspire them to make choices that will lead to them being able to do this one day.

We’ve decided to run an Intramural Open within our gym this year. We want to reinforce these ideas and we think that adding a fun, spirit oriented, team atmosphere to the Open will do just that. So go, RIGHT NOW! to games.crossfit.com and get registered. We’ll draft some teams, we’ll have some serious fun, and then we’ll make 2016 the best Open yet!

Setting And Achieving Realistic Goals In The Gym And In Life

The Open is over and within the CrossFit world, a new year has begun. Those of us not moving on to the next level of competition have an opportunity to learn lessons from this year’s Open, to identify weaknesses and strengths, and to set some goals to go about becoming a better athlete for next year! There’s no better time than the present to get started on some goals to improve yourself...

The Effects of 15.4

Without a doubt you are probably feeling pretty tight and limited in the shoulders,  thoracic spine and neck after 15.4.  I feel ya!  Here are some things to work on this week to get back that athletic posture.  Don't abandon your training this week just because you are sore.  Really spend some quality time with your lacrosse ball, baseballs or whatever you can find handy around the house to do this.  Your body and mind will thank you for it.