posted February 13

    There was an overwhelming trend at the Crossfit Games this year: a plethora of amazing posteriors. I’m not bringing this up for laughs, I’m bringing it up for functional reasons. As Crossfitters, we squat a lot. A LOT. People tend to only think about the quadraceps during the squat, but your glutes are also playing a big role. In any functional movement, the more muscle groups you can recruit to do the work, the more efficient you will be. The kipping pull-up and push press vs. the strict pull-up and strict press are good examples of this. The act of kipping allows us to perform the pull-up with much more muscular efficiency than the strict, and as a result we are able to do more repetitions before we hit muscle failure. The same is true of the push press and the strict press. In the squat, if we can recruit more muscle groups, we will be able to perform more repetitions, lift more weight, or both. With proper form, the squat will engage the quadraceps (top of the thigh), abductors (outside of the thigh), adductors (inside of the thigh), hamstrings (back of the thigh), and glutes (butt).

    In order to properly recruit all of these muscle groups, we must perform the squat properly. There’s a lot that goes along with this. First and foremost, we must have our weight flat on the foot, slightly back on the heel, and never on the toes. In fact, it is impossible to engage your posterior chain properly (glutes, hamstrings) if you squat on your toes. In addition to leaving out crucial muscles, you will ruin your knees if you squat on your toes. The shear forces placed on your patella tendon will do serious damage to the knee joint. Secondly, we must lean the butt back before it goes down. This ensures two things: that our weight will be in the heel, and that we will be using the glutes. Third, keep the top of the thigh parallel to the top of the foot. Another way to think about this is to keep your knees out during the squat. If your knees collapse, you are losing the ability for your adductors to contribute on the way up, and are potentially causing damage to the knee. Fourth, make sure you’re squatting all the way down. This means the hip joint will be lower than the top of the patella. It is not until we reach this full-depth position that the hamstrings, adductors and abductors really get involved. If all we are ever doing is partial-depth squats, we are damaging our knees by loading the joint only on one side.

    So, next time you’re squatting, keep your butt in mind. It’s a wonderful thing, and will help you lift more weight or perform more reps before failure. Plus, you’ll look really good from behind.

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