Motivated to master motion? Take another look at squats

Yes, I’m covering squats again. No, I haven’t run out of ideas. Some of my gym members like to tease me that eventually I’ll run out of topics. They say that’s when I’ll start to regurgitate earlier stuff. Not today guys.

The squats today come from CrossFit level 1 trainer and fitness manager Royce Laguerta. You may remember Royce from the column on dead lifts (see the Nov. 19 column online for details).

CrossFit trainers are effective in their instruction of fundamental lifts. They effectively break down simple and complex movements to their athletes. If you want the best techniques, go to the best sources. Royce shows some techniques here and in the video online that may help you perfect your squat. Feel free to visit your local CrossFit gym or CrossFit level 1 trainer for more expertise.

Learning and relearning functional movements will help you understand how you move. The body likes to cheat. When some muscles get tight, others take over and that changes how you move. Ask yourself: How does my body cheat? What muscles are tight and what are my form flaws?

Conditioning the body doesn’t mean only lifting and running. Making sure your muscles are healthy might take some time. Foam rollers and stretching are vital tools to unlock human potential. If you’re riddled with tight muscles, then taking time to roll and stretch will do more for you than pushing through the pain and limited range of motion.

I have the privilege of working with professionals such as Royce regularly. On one occasion I saw him holding off on adding more weight to a max lift. Based on his previous lift, I thought he could do more. When I asked him why he didn’t add more weight he replied, "It’s not how much I can lift, it’s how well I can lift it. If the technique looks good then the weight will follow." He thought his form would be compromised with heavier weight, and increasing the risk of injury is not his goal.

Being able to squat your body weight is impressive. Even more than that is not being sore that evening or the next day after performing a max lift. How does someone do that? Proper conditioning and a basic understanding of movement.

Use the squats illustrated today to better your understanding of movement in general. Watch for common faults and work on them. Seek out a trainer if you need a calibrated eye and some expertise.

The front squat is a progression of the basic air squat. Mastering the air squat will increase the chance of accomplishing this lift. If your back rounds forward during an air squat, that will be exacerbated by the front squat, especially when weight is used. Take time to learn each progression.

For some people, using a barbell is uncomfortable. This could be because of limited range of motion in the shoulder and/or upper back. It could also be the placement of the bar or the weight pressing down. To progress your squats with a weighted barbell, start light and work your way up. In the pictures we use a PVC pipe. It’s straight, light and cheap. From there, move up to a 10-pound bar and take it slow. Remember, it’s how well you move and not how much you move.

Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.

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