In CrossFit, Exercises, Reference, Videos

March 27, 2010

Video Article

A host of things can produce a poor squat. Limited range of motion, shaky balance, lack of flexibility, low strength—all can result in a squat that will make a trainer cringe.

Some will attempt to work on deficiencies in order to get a client to squat better, but Greg Glassman believes the best solution is simply more squats:

“Regardless of what the problem is, the answer is to squat.”

The magic, of course, is in the movement.

3min 10sec

Additional reading: Squat Clinic by Greg Glassman, published Dec. 1, 2002.

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14 Comments on “At the Chalkboard: Just Squat”


wrote …


Do you think it would be possible to rebuild Khalipa by getting him to do bar holds and the rest of the stuff in "Squat Clinic" without having to send him to Kelly Starrett?




wrote …

What would be some of the hamastring work?


replied to comment from dominik pieklo

Check out Kelly Starrett's video on PNF / Stretching is Dead. Those exercises help tremendously with hamstring / glute lengthening. Normal stretching is not the answer...or wasn't for me.


wrote …

Duncan - seems like two different topics. One - what to do with a beginning athlete, deficient in one or more qualities necessary to squat well. Two - how to get 'another 3-5%' from an elite athlete. However, no reason not to use KStar's PNF advice on a newby, while we're also having them squat.

Interesting 'violent agreement' on this issue - look at Coach B's advice to the All Blacks Oly lifter - 'bring me the hips.' IOW, from the squat position, keep stretching, keep working to better position. Not to say that one couldn't do more assistance work in addition to the squats, as Coach mentioned.

Dominik - the Tate/Simmons videos recommend everything from varieties of deadlifts, to good mornings, to GH raises to leg curls with bands, to sled drags as ways to enhance or speed development of hamstring strength. Supermans might even be effective for less robust trainees.


wrote …

I love this clip. It highlights an important underlying belief with which I agree: to get better at a thing, your time and energy is best used practicing that thing.

I don't think it's about whether or not other exercises or therapies can't help, supplement, etc. It seems more of a response to a tendency (which I have exhibited as well) of a lot of theoretically inclined athletes to overthink stuff and spend a lot of time looking for fixes and explanations in places other than in the obvious.

It's good to have someone like Coach Glassman to remind us of that.


wrote …

Simma, you couldnĀ“t be more right! From experience of being a Massage Therapist and a Strength and condition trainer almost every client is looking for the "quick fix" to get better. What needs to be done is practice that movement until it looks like Coach Glassmans drawing. Only then will the athlete understand what "feel the movement" means. We need to get the atletes/clients to "feel" what they are doing, weather it is squat or deadlift or push-ups. I see in this clip how hard it is to get that into words even for Coach G. But he says it well...."just squat".


Dane Thomas wrote …

This simple truth managed to escape every PE teacher and coach that I had during high school and college, as well as the Therapeutic Exercise and Sports Medicine instructors that I had in Physical Therapy school. Even getting my C.S.C.S didn't bring this message home.

My first glimpses of this in my own life came when I was 34, and now that I am 45 I feel like I am really just starting to understand this most basic building block of functional motion and strength. I can only imagine how much better my fitness (and my life) would have been if I had learned this as a teenager.


replied to comment from Paul Eich


I don't think it's two different topics. I think it's more like two different approaches to solve the same problem - immature squat. Jason has a very immature looking squat and he is being helped by Kelly Starrett.

I don't really see much difference in what is actually happening to the athletes though.

Coach Glassmen has them holding onto a pole and squat and he sticks his knee in their back to get them into the right place.

Kelly Starret lies them on a couch and he manipulates them into the right place.

Mike Burgener has them get into the bottom of the squat and holds them there and "works the bottom position".

All of it has a kind of PNF(ish) feel to it.

If you look at the video of Mike Burgener coaching Jason Khalipa and a female athlete to do snatches. he identifies flexibility issues when he sees Jason's OHS.

I've seen a few videos of Jason squatting and he just doesn't do it right. My concern is that he is the 2008 champion but he has no basic squat technique. How can that happen? To me it's not about getting another 3% - 5% out of an elite athlete but saying "woah! if you continue to do it like that you are going to end up hurt".

IMO all the different ways of getting to the right place are good if they work and don't do harm. Most of us train in gyms with weights, poles etc so the methods using that equipment would probably be most suitable. I like Kelly Starret's hip mobilisation routine he had Jason doing on his own. Tried it and it works so I'll do it again.




Dane Thomas wrote …


Jason has gotten away with suboptimal technique and efficiency because his strength and work capacity are off the charts and he hasn't been doing it wrong long enough to suffer from any long-term debilitating injuries.


wrote …

Coach is absolutely right.
The movement is the thing. I will never advocate mobility work for the thing itself.
Pre-qualifying athletes with movement screens and flexibility/strength measures prior to actually "moving" is Type 1 error thinking that has set athletes back for a long time.

Besides, the squat is infinitely scaleable and adjustable. There is universally a movement compromise of motor solution to actually allow for the squat to occur, including volume, loading, or speed. Working on movement restrictions in athletes will never be the same thing or a substitute for practice.

And please don't forget, I'm a Crossfit Coach first, and a physio second. I advocate for all the strategies provided by Coach Glassman or Coach-B. There are occasions when chasing elite performance when doing a movement by itself won't elicit improved quality. But, this is absolutely not to be confused for not actually performing the "imperfect" version of the movement. This too, is addressed (in a Pysiotherapy free way) in our constantly varied programming and is also reflected in the programming of the coaches and athletes of Westside.



wrote …

Coach Glassman's advice doesn't actually exclude doing other kinds of work/therapy that contributes to a better squat.

After all, you can't squat every single moment you're awake.

But the notion that there's no substitute for a heavy dose of the movement itself definitely needs enforcement with a group of athletes who are always trying to see all dimensions of a thing (a good quality overall) and can sometimes lose sight of the obvious.

It's not just CF--it happens with all training protocols, all activities. I see it over and over again in martial arts, for instance. The smartest, most insightful students can have a tendency to make things too complicated or abstract. They start concentrating on peripheral or esoteric concerns that take away from what they could be learning if they were just practicing whatever it was they were finding challenging. A good teacher always roots these students back in the basics. As we gain experience, we tend to learn the value and irreplaceable nature of "just doing it".


replied to comment from Kelly Starrett


What is your prediction for the outcome of your intervention with Jason? It seems that you are trying to get him to be able to squat to proper depth without losing the fixed relationship between his spine in neutral and his pelvis, thereby keeping the tension on his posterior chain at the bottom position of the squat and increasing his ability to apply force.

You help him to be able to achieve a more efficient squat but are you expecting there to be a dip in form while he adjusts to the new way of doing things? In the past he has used his quads to a large extent to apply the force (with the ability to apply more force than a lot of guys with better technique). Do you expect the glutes and hammies to take up the slack immediately or will there be a period where these muscles have to be trained to carry out the work?

Excellent series of articles, thanks CFJ and thanks Kelly.




wrote …

A little disapointed in the explanation of poor squatting.
There might a plethora of reason why some one does not squat properly.
yes tight hamstring ( even though I would not put my knee on someones back to fix or to identify anything... thats just bad!!!!)

The reasons mught be:
tight hamstrings
tight hip flexors
lack of thoraxic spine mobility
Lack of ankle mobility

All these needs to taken into consideration. Do not reinvent the wheel. The FMS ( functional movement screen) has already addressed these issues sucessfully.


wrote …

Great videos! The only thing I was wondering I just became a journal member and just put over 200 videos on my ipod. For some reason some will play on it, but videos like this will play fine in itunes, but will only play a second of video then cut off on my ipod. The benching with Louie won't work also. Was wondering if there is a way to fix this. A lot of the videos do work. It just some that don't. Thanks so much in advance. Sorry for the long comment.

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