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Where I Talk About Squatting…

April 14, 2015

Tuesday will be the final week of our 8 week Back Squat builtd.  Throw in the CrossFit Games Open, thumb where we did a million Overhead Squats, cure Wallball Shots and Thrusters, plus all the squat work I throw at you, and you have been fighting a war on your legs.

After all these squats, we will test our 1RM next week.  Maybe you PR, maybe you don’t.  Truthfully, it matters, but not a whole lot.  As long as you are building a durable body, and you are getting stronger, you are winning.

If you have been training for more than a few years, you know PR come fast early, but get harder as you train.  I have not PR’ed my 1RM Back Squat – I am not kidding – in 4 years.  It’s 365.  This might sound like bragging, but here goes: during that time, I have qualified for 4 CrossFit Games Regionals, PR’ed every WOD I can think of, added 30 pounds to my Snatch, 45 pounds to my Overhead Squat, 50 pounds to my Clean, and 60 pounds to my Front Squat.  The Back Squat is an accessory lift.  I do it all the time, but the goal for me is to get my body stronger and more fit, not just add numbers on the bar.  If you are getting stronger, perfecting your position, the numbers will happen.

For me, and in my experience in coaching, there is a sweet spot between lifting heavy and getting banged up.  Working at or close to 90% of established 1RMs is great, and can be good for you.  But consistently working at 90% or above has led to dings, bumps and bruises that have effected other aspects of training.  This has been true for me and many athletes that I have been around.  5RM work doesn’t always lead to 1RM magic.  5RM does lead to strong sets of thrusters, wall balls and nearly everything else you want to do in life.  In my opinion, if you want to get 1RM PR, you will have to do 1RM work and attempts.  That means lots of work at, near or above 90% of established 1RMs.  For many of us, the bang for our buck just isn’t there.

Now, if you are dead set on hitting a back squat PR, let me give you a quick tip.

To prep your Central Nervous System for a PR attempt, try a “walk out” this week.  Take some time to load the bar to what you want to hit, or even above, and perform a “walk out.”  Literally, load the bar to that heavy weight, walk out like you are going to squat it, and stand there for 10-30 seconds, feeling the weight.  Then put it back.  Try this once or twice this week if you have a number you are shooting for next week.  As always, please do not interfere with an ongoing class if you want to try the walk out.  Otherwise, squat as heavy as you can and move on with your life.  

The Med Ball Clean and the Sumo Deadlift High Pull are 2 of the 9 foundational movements of CrossFit, and they are taught at the Level 1 Seminar.  They are also derided for many reasons, mainly because you can’t (and shouldn’t) really load them heavy.  Yes, there are probably better versions of these movements.  But, in my opinion, and through lots of experience, the MBC and the SDHP are fantastic ways to develop stamina.  Like a Burpee, if the load is set appropriately, you can always do another one – it’s whether YOU want to actually do another one.

This is like a greatest hits of CrossFit people talking about Squatting.  Coach Glassman may be a little under the weather when talking at the chalkboard.   

Workout of the Day


Back Squat, 5RM, Week 8 of 8

Take 20 minutes to build to a heavy set of 5.  If possible, add 5-10# to last weeks lift.


“The Humpty Dance”


10 Med Ball Cleans (20/14)

10 Burpees

Shamelessly borrowed from CrossFit Providence.

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