Three Keys to Fitness: Squat, Squat and Squat some more!

CrossFit Squat

“There is a compelling tendency among novices… to quickly move past the fundamentals” – Greg Glassman, CrossFit Founder and CEO.

Most of us have experienced this tendency in one way or another in our lives. We begin to learn about something that interests us and we want to push past the tedious work of ingraining the fundamentals and get to the good stuff.

We want to crush a golf ball 300 yards down the fairway before we know how to grip the club, we want to hunt the biggest game on an African safari before we know what our natural point of aim is on our rifle.

It’s a tendency in which we all struggle. In our eagerness to lose weight, get fit, and feel better, we are prone to do what we’re naturally inclined to… skip to the good stuff. After all, we can all remember how much we used to be able to bench, or how quickly we could smoke a mile, or crank out push-ups like they were nothing.

Once we decide to become intentional about our health, those lingering memories drive us to bounce back to those conditions, even when our body says otherwise.

I want to share the importance of pumping the breaks a little and concentrate on the fundamentals so you can build a strong foundation of movement for the future. Fundamentals are essential. Success, in all aspects of life, is achieved through sacrifice and great attention to detail.

As such, I’d like to focus on the squat, the fundamental human movement that God intended for sitting and picking objects off of the ground. There are several key components to a good squat that I’d like to introduce so that you can take them back with you to work on.

While it’s a fundamental movement our bodies were created to do, we all have limitations which we must work through to overcome. These limitations won’t be directly addressed in this article, but when you see what the key components are, your limitations may jump out at you and make themselves easily identifiable.

Here’s what an optimum squat should look like:

Set Up:

  • Heels set at shoulder width apart
  • Full extension of the hips and knees
  • Weight in your heels
  • Keep your chest up, brace your abdominal muscles in order to maintain a neutral spine
  • Lift your hands out and up as you descend

Performance:

  • Butt travels back and down
  • Bottom of the squat is when the hip crease is below the top of the knee cap
  • Knees should stay in line with your feet
  • Neutral head position
  • Return to full hip and knee extension to complete the movement (stand tall)

An important step is drilling this movement each time you workout and find something to improve on each time.

One squat drill that I perform daily is to begin the squat about 8-10 inches away from a wall that you’re facing. As you perform the squat hang out at the bottom for 5-10 seconds and get your sense of balance and build confidence in holding a strong position.

After performing 2-3 slow reps from this distance, I inch closer to the wall until my toes are almost touching the wall. This drill takes time to establish proficiency but it is a great way to force yourself to maintain a neutral spine and find the proper distribution of weight in your heels.