3 Ways to Improve Your Squat
Perhaps the single most functional exercise, the squat is a baseline to our fitness. How much can you squat, how many times can you squat it, and how is your range of motion? Many of us aspire to improve all aspects of this functional exercise but aren’t sure how to attack it. Here are three simple ways to improve your squat:
1 – Assess, and work on, your range of motion
For many, their difficulty in the squat simply lies in their range of motion. Their body is tight from sitting at a desk, and when asked to do a full range of motion squat, the body struggles. Fair enough! Ask a Coach to watch you squat – we can notice right away where your limiting factors are. Tight hips, tight hamstrings, tight ankles … they can all make squatting more difficult. To improve your range of motion, you need to make a dedicated effort to opening up your body. For some, this means coming to class 30 minutes early and getting a big warmup in. For others, it can mean doing 10 minutes of stretching every night at home. The key point though, is to pick an avenue of attack, and go for it. Any action is better than inaction. There are great options now for at home mobility as well, such as ROMWOD and MobilityWOD. Both cost around $10/mo and provide daily stretching routines. We now also offer two mobility classes a week at CFS - take advantage! I heard one Coach say (I forget who) that for every hour of fitness, you should have one hour of self care (stretching, yoga, massage, etc). We have one body in this life, and it takes a lot of work to keep it functioning correctly! Treat it well!
2 – Squat more
We do a lot of squats in CrossFit. Air squats, back squats, wallballs, the list goes on. But if you have a specific goal of increasing your back squat strength, how often do you dedicate time to this? The goal in regular CrossFit class is being “generally physically prepared”, meaning we should be good at everything. But if your personal goal is to increase your back squat, you may need to take one day a week, do open gym, and do 5x10 back squats. Commit to a day – any day – and do it every week for 2 months. Your squat will go up, guaranteed. Stay committed.
3 – Do accessory exercises
As mentioned above, we do a lot of squats in CrossFit! But perhaps you have one specific weakness, and that needs more attention. This is where doing some accessory exercises after class can help. The list can go on and on, but for example, if you have weak glutes or hip extension, doing 3x10 Hip Raises after class daily can be a huge help. Perhaps you have trouble getting out of the hole of a deep squat and need to do some bottom-up squats. Or maybe you rely on a belt too often and need to do more planks or core work. Like the first two ways to improve your squat, you need a plan, and it needs to be written down. Commit to your plan for at least two months, and then asses the results. How did it go? Did you stick to it? Were the results what you expected? Accessory lifts should not be complicated, and they should not take long to do. Keep it simple.
The act of improving your squat, or any movement, is never ending. Whether you are brand new to CrossFit or you have been doing the sport for five years, there is always something to work on. Virtuosity – the act of always trying to make it as perfect as possible – is an admirable trait that will serve you well for the rest of your life.
^ Greg before and after a 60 minute session with Coach Jay
Remember the Coaches are here to help you before, during, and after class, but if you want dedicated time to having a Coach analyze and help improve your form, we do offer 30 minute and 60 minute personal training sessions with any of the Coaches. We can also make the programming for you to follow for your specific goal. Please reach out to any of the Coaches if you are interested.