Whether you just started training with us at CrossFit West or have been training with us for years, you have undoubtedly heard us mention the importance of taking the time to truly develop and master the Squat. We have even mentioned it in several blog posts of various lengths over the years.
AJ was “absolutely sure” that he was “getting good depth” in his Squat until I took a video with the Coaches Eye app and showed him (snap-shot, top-left). After being faced with this unsettling realization, he was absolutely determined to develop his Squat and worked on it daily for weeks (literally!).
Aside from doing things like the “squat-stretch” with one of the uprights on the Rogue Pull-Up structure, I had him gradually work his way down to a “box” while doing an Air-Squat, lightly touching his butt to the box while maintaining control, fighting hard to avoid the tendency to “plop” down onto the box. After achieving a controlled “contact” with the box, the goal was to force the “posterior chain” (glutes, hamstrings, etc) to engage and contribute to his moving off of the box and rising back up through his squat into a standing position, all without rocking his body forward and relying just on the quads. I used a stack of weights, (as seen in the bottom two pics), and gradually removed a 10 or 15 pound plate each time, slowly increasing the depth. We did this FIRST with his Air-Squats. Once he was able to do this in a controlled manner with good depth, we introduced a light load in the Back-Squat, repeating the entire process over again, gradually increasing the depth while under control by removing a thin bumper plate each time.
Tenacious AJ literally worked this progression every day for a couple weeks. He wasn’t just “doing squats” while working through this progression either. He was very focused on the task at hand, thinking about what he was doing and trying to achieve, and tried hard to have very deliberate and controlled movement patterns and force better neurological development. As you can see from the after-photo (top-right), his focused time and effort have definitely paid off as he is now able to use heavy loads in a Back-Squat while achieving much better depth and still maintaining sound mechanics and movement patterns.
Whether it is improving your Squat like AJ, getting your first Muscle-Up like Bilal and Naomi, or landing that new prestigious job like Claudia, if you want something bad enough and are willing to WORK FOR IT, you will undoubtedly achieve it!
The extra time AJ spends chasing Virtuosity here will advance the development of his Squat far more than just adding another 10# to the bar. No matter how long you’ve been doing CrossFit or what your current mobility level is, whether you already “compete in CrossFit at a high level” or not, it will ALWAYS benefit you to spend some extra time trying to really perfect your Squat and your understanding of it. Once you feel you’ve “mastered” the squat, …take a step back, break it down and start it again. It will serve you in ways you may not even be able to quantify.
Great work, AJ!!!