The squat, more specifically the ‘air squat’, is a foundational movement to CrossFit as well as everyday life. Having an effective and efficient air squat will allow for better movement patterns to be adopted and translate to a faster, less energy taxing squat. This will then allow for a stronger back squat, front squat, and even overhead squat. Most importantly moving correctly will reduce any unwanted wear and tear on the body and allow us to move well throughout our lives.
Recently attending the CrossFit Level 2 coaching certification drew my attention back to the importance of drilling the simple movements. It can take years to get our squat to where we want it, and it’s something that we should all work towards. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue to squat with weight, but just because we can squat with weight doesn’t mean we can’t go back and continue to improve the basics.
One of the main reasons some of us can’t squat ‘perfectly’ is due to sitting in chairs. Sitting causes tight and weak hip flexors, hips, and hamstrings. Other reasons could be an excess of muscle building compared with mobility, or simply a lack of ability to activate the right muscles at the right time.
Some errors that we would like to eliminate include beginning the movement with the knees instead of the hips, knees coming in, excessive torso movement forward, weight forward onto the toes, and a loss of lumbar curve at the bottom.
TIME FOR SQUAT THERAPY
1. If you have the mobility for a technically proficient squat but struggle getting your chest up then the med ball wall squat is for you:
- Stand as close to the wall as possible.
- Hands down by your side (or straight up overhead – for experts)
- Squat down onto a med ball.
- Drive through the heels to come back to standing.
- The aim of the game is to keep creeping closer to the wall, whilst not touching it with your face or arms.
- This will force the hips to travel back and down and the body to adopt an upright torso.
- Another technique includes:
- Place your feet in the squat position straddling one of the vertical posts on the rig.
- With your toes in line with the front of the post and your chest touching the post.
- Perform a squat pushing the hips back and down, allow the post to help keep your chest up and your spine in a neutral position.
- If ankle mobility is a problem, Pat Sherwood (a CrossFit level 4 certified coach) has this fantastic drill which I would thoroughly recommend:
- Standing with your back against the wall, feet 5-15cm out from the wall.
- Squat as low as possible with the wall supporting the butt.
- Keeping the heels up off the floor enough so that a finger could easily slip beneath.
- Take a dumbbell or plate and rest it on your knees.
- This will help to drive your heels down into the ground, increasing the range of motion at the ankle.
Happy Squatting and if you are struggling, ask a coach to help,