The squat is King.
This movement has the greatest carryover to CrossFit performance. It will bring up your Olympic lifts, the deadlift, jumping, anything that’s lower body dominant.
The problem is that most people aren’t putting in the work to earn a big squat. What’s on the whiteboard at your Box? Is it 3 to 5 work sets once or twice a week? That’s not much barbell practice, especially if you consider the volumes of work performed by some of the strongest weightlifters and powerlifters in the World.
I’m not training for Fran, but I squat 2-3x per week for most of the year, doing up to 18 work sets of various squat variations in a single session. Squatting is a skill and just like any other skill, if you an practice it and it’s variations more often, you will have greater results. More squatting will also give you the opportunity for better technique, furthering your chances to lift more weight. Increased your squatting volume will benefit you in 3 critical ways:
1. More Hypertrophy in the Legs
Great squatters have big legs, plain and simple. Increasing your volume is the simplest way to build the requisite size. Bigger legs will increase potential strength, improve your stability with big weights on your back, and enhance your leverage across key joints. Do the work.
2. More Opportunities to Use Exercise Variations
The high bar back squat should be the foundational movement in the CrossFit athlete’s squat training because it will transfer the best to the Olympic lifts. There is not argument here, it’s simple mechanics. But if you’re only doing 6-10 work sets of squats each week, there isn’t much opportunity for you to address your weak-points and also practice technique on the core lift.
There is opportunity to play with squat variations that will help you overcome those weaknesses. Try adding a single low volume day of squatting where you can begin to experiment. Some of my favorite squat variations to include after my main squat work are front squats and pause squats (pausing both at the bottom of the lift and above parallel on the way back up).
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3. Better Technique
More squats mean more practice. More practice means you will build your squatting skill quickly, but it has to be the highest possible quality.
Approach every rep with focus and practice your craft from an empty bar up to your max. Never rush, and never take a weight for granted. Another often overlooked technique point is breathing. Try to expand your midsection with air in all directions (not just pushing your abs forward) before you begin your descent. Creating this circumferential expansion will increase your squatting strength and keep your back healthier in the long run.
That should start setting you up to get your squat moving in the right direction. Squat more often and you will be a better athlete in every way.
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