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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer!

See schedule here.


Entries in front squat (32)

Coach's Corner: More With Tempo

Among other things, this has been the Summer of tempo lifts. On Tuesday we worked slow sets of 5 front squats with everyone in our constant attempt to develop more movement control - and therefore strength. Here is the last sets from the 11 am and 6:30 pm sessions.

Carter: "OOWWWWW"

A couple points of note:

Rack position. The front rack archetype is one of the fundamentals shapes our shoulder need to be able to go through, and is very prominent in things like throwing and tumbling. In the front squat, the main limiting factor for most in keeping the elbows up isn't the wrists, and it's not necessarily the shoulders (although improved mobility will help). It's actually midline strength. At the bottom I yell out "elbows up" as a means to make sure the athletes are not breaking any position of the midline. I'm sure they noticed how much harder this made the lift.

Gravity. The more I am learning about strength and conditioning, the more I am beginning to realize the role of strength: resisting gravity when needed. If we are exaggerating the skill/technique of a movement, then we are working with natural forces (gravity, muscle/tendon elasticity). But in real life, we will not always have the perfect technique to serve what nature is offering us. Or maybe we will be blindsided by a linebacker. This is where strength comes in to help us keep our position relative.

Movement control. In order to keep position, we need to control how our body moves. This is what I refer to as movement control. This can be as simple as bracing the midline, or holding the figure-4 Pose in running. When you speed a movement up, athletes can find flow that can help them with the skill/technique; when they slow it down, it helps on the other end of the movement control spectrum. The front squats in the video above are a great challenge to the athletes' position. Watch Elizabeth go through her front squats; how many moving parts are there? Is her head moving? Her arms? Her belly? Not really. Watch Crawford (with 3 years less CrossFit experience); how many moving parts do you see? Was he able to control the squat movement to the tempo of my counting? What about Kroll?

Now this is all fun for me to talk about, but the thing I really value is intensity. So when we see movements with the squat performed at high intensity, I am interested to see if this translates as well as I think it will. Just some things to keep in mind...

Beast Mode: Shakes and Kris Modify

On Tuesday's max effort front squat, the limiting factor in some people was the mobility to stay in a good rack position. Most of the time, this is limited by the shoulders missing external rotation. For Kris Campbell and Katie Shakes this was definitely the case, so we modified things.

This variant of the squat is called the Zercher squat. Not sure where it came from, but I remembered we did them in 2013 after it was featured on the main site and those are not something you forget. Shakes's wrist was really bothering her in the morning so I tested the Zercher squat out on her. It went well so we used is in the afternoon for Kris and Reggie (not featured in the video).

Good job with the modifications and keep working to get a better rack position!

Beast Mode: Crawford

Remember, More Program than Gym comes out tonight at 7 pm.


Do you guys remember when Crawford could not perform an air squat without his knees touching each other? I can't. Because now we get things like this:

Crawford topped out at 135-lbs. last night on his 3 rep max front squat. He has been really on point with his training ever since Cross Country ended. Be on the lookout for this one...

Beast Mode: Mrs. Kroll

During the technique partion of the 8:30 as session yesterday, Mrs. Kroll almost fell backwards when trying to bring the bar up to her shoulders. Needless to say no squatting took place and I thought I was in for a long session.

Fortunately, Mrs. Kroll suddenly got comfortable with the rack position - helped by some Voodoo band to the wrist - and was able to work her way through the 5 rep max workout. In fact, she kept going up and up until she topped out at 80 lbs - which, I believe, is more than she has done any style of squat for any amount of reps.

Great job kiddo! Robert and Rachael should be proud of their mama.

Beast Mode: Robert Kroll Has Good Form??

It's cool to see what a little bit on consistency will do. Robert Kroll might be our next generation's JZ. The Summer 10 amer has the capacity to move well and fast but his coordination and balance are typically the limiting factor. The more someone shows up, the quicker this can be corrected.

If I remember correctly, I set Robert at 95 lbs to start max effort baclk squats sometime in December and I immediately knew it was too heavy. On Tuesday's max effort thruster I kept a close eye on him as he went to 65 lbs. Today I expected Robert to be around the 75-lb. mark for front squat. I was wrong.

Try 125-lbs.

Great job bro and keep up the good attendance.

Beast Mode: Katie Shakes

When Katie Shakes is on, everyone gets showed up on max effort days. This morning's victim was Sabal. 160 lbs. for him. 160 lbs. for Shakes. Take a look.

Seriously Shakes, you're a beast.

Squatting FYI

It's been a while since we've done back squats in a workout (and not max effort). When we're doing these for reps it's important to remember what seperates them from the rest of the weighted squat family. Since the external load is on the athlete's back the torso position will be affected. Instead of maintaining a straight up and down torso, the athlete allows the chest to descend towards the floor like the picture below. 

In a front squat, the athlete has to remain more upright because the weight is being supported at the front of the body. If an athlete tried to squat with the same torso position in a front squat than a back squat, they would lose the load unless they had rubber arms and the best rack position ever. However, there's one more squat that places even more demand on the hips and ankles to keep the torso upright. 

That last squat would be the overhead squat! Whether your best friend or nemesis, no one can deny the positional strength that the overhead squat requires. In order to keep the weight stable overhead, it must remain close to the center of gravity of the athlete, which in this case would be over the middle of the foot. This requires the most upright torso. 

If an athlete were to treat a back squat like a front squat or a overhead squat, they tend to overextend to achieve a more upright torso, even though that isn't needed in a back squat. Get comfy folded over!