If we had to pick one thing when it comes to movement in CrossFit that would positively impact the most amount of athletes it would be the squat. We’re not saying that you should work to have a 400lb back squat in order to be successful at CrossFit. More important initially than your squatting strength is your squatting range of motion and mobility. The basic air squat motion transfers over to many movements common to CrossFit. Any Olympic movement, the squat clean or the squat snatch requires a full squat to reach your full potential. Thrusters and wall balls are always showing up in workouts. If you are unable to perform a basic air squat, to full depth with an upright torso and without tightness or pain, you’re missing out on a lot of power and efficiency.
Here are a few proven benefits to squatting to full depth with your hips well below your knees. Your legs will get stronger. With a longer range of motion, you will apply more time under tension to your muscles. When squatting with load to full depth, you are training muscles of the lower back as well which is an added benefit. Our bodies have evolved to squat deep and if we don’t practice full depth, we lose out on the flexibility and strength required to squat deep. Anytime you are forced to squat deep when you don’t have the required strength and flexibility, injuries are bound to happen.
Practice how you want to play. If we train our wall balls daily with a less than a full squat, what happens on gameday (the Open or a competition) when wall balls are required? You have to think about every rep and whether you are reaching depth or not. You may get a bunch of no reps because what your body thinks is full depth, really isn’t full depth.
If you think you may have a depth problem, get out there and start to change your movement pattern. Have your workout partner or coach watch you when you’re training and give you feedback. Lighten the load now so that you will be able to squat fully with a heavier load later. The sooner you learn this principle, the sooner you will be ready for the next step.