Squatting and Why it is Ok to Regress in the Name of Progress

By Jackie Babington

As most of you know our current major focus is the squat, and as with all things in CrossFit, this is where you stronger units feel like vikings in hitting high numbers and others are faced with working on developing this area into more of a strength (through the inspiration of seeing the squat numbers of our Vikings)
However, lifting heavy numbers doesn’t always mean you are squatting in a way that is progressive. If you’re squatting isn’t quite mechanically sound, then this can result in a few different issues, such as:
- Overuse injuries – when we repeatedly put pressure on areas such as our quads, from sitting into our knees and toes or knees collapsing in during a squat, the surrounding tendons and smaller muscles can strain and tear under the pressure. Compared to our glutes, hamstrings and the surrounding supportive structures, these smaller muscles are simply not made for dealing with heavy loads over long periods of time.

- Lack of Progress – If you are always squatting in and out of weaker muscles or moving in a way that doesn’t allow for the best use of your stronger posterior chain of muscles, this will cause you to hit a bit of a slow or even a brick wall in your strength potential. Often you will notice you will develop a ‘sticking point’ in your squat or even, as mentioned above, hampered by a niggle.

- Issues with your squat in your Olympic lifting – You bet, Poor mechanics in your squat (let’s call it a shitty squat, for a less technical term), lack of progress in squat numbers and injuries will certainly cause for a less than ideal squat position and/or progress in your snatch and clean.

Solution….

This is where regressing and re-developing your squat comes in, with the following things to focus on:

Slow down your descend – This is particularly for those of you that, as I say, ‘drop it like it’s hot’ and like to use the momentum of bouncing to get in and out of the squat. As you all may have seen with the tempo squat and previous pause squats, a lot of you were challenged with having to slow down your descend into the squat and even stay active in the bottom of your squat. Practice slowing down and really keeping the body tight when going into and out of your squat.

Box-squat – or sit your hips back and drive your knees out in the exact same way. This is for the more quad dominant folk (aka, your quads always hurt and your butt NEVER gets sore after squatting). Sitting into the hips and forcing the hamstrings to take the load will really allow you to take the load off your knees

Tightening Your Upper body – If you pick the bar up with hesitation or don’t keep your upper back rock-solid before going into your squat, you are bound for a shaky squat. Bring the arms in close-ish on the bar, elbows back and shoulder blades tight. Your core should be rock solid no matter what and all these will help your nervous system switch on and get more muscle fibres (let’s call it strength potential) kicking in to help you have a better squat position overall.

As I always say, quiz the coaches, ask them to watch your squat closely if it doesn’t feel right and we can then give you something to work on to get you becoming a mechanically sound squat Viking. (aka, a squat Viking without a shitty squat)