squatting

Squatting Pain Free; Part 2

Safety Squat Bar:

We are going to continue the discussion this week by talking about different squatting options I use with my athletes. Squatting with a standard barbell requires a good deal of mobility. When an athlete is unable to squat correctly due to mobility limitations, it’s time to start investigating other options. If you struggle with mobility, but don’t want to be the odd one out in class, the safety squat bar is a great option.

Who should be using this bar?

The simple answer is everyone, but specifically people with mobility issues that limit their squat. So like I said, everyone! If I had to pinpoint one specific area in the upper body that everyone could benefit from improving, it would be thoracic spine extension. A lack of thoracic spine extension can lead to all sorts of problems down the road when back and front squatting, such as shoulder impingement, epicondylitis (golfer/tennis elbow), and wrist pain.

With the lower body, a combination of lack of hip and ankle mobility limit good squatting technique. Poor mobility can lead to lower back pain, hip impingement, and patella tendinitis (jumper’s knee).

What if I am a Mobility Ninja?

Very unlikely! But even if you do have good mobility the safety bar is a very good variation in the regular motor-pattern of the squat, offering a more quad-dominant movement. If you have a huge deadlift but can barely squat the bar, it’s time to work on more quad dominant movements.

How is the different shape of the bar going to help me?

Holding on to the bar with the handles out in front of your body eliminates the need for the required amount of thoracic extension for front/back squatting. This reduces unwanted pressure on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

Have you noticed that you can do a perfect goblet squat, but it all goes downhill when you have a bar on your chest/back? The cambered design of the safety bar lowers the center of mass so it’s easier to maintain a more upright position when squatting. This upright position leads to safer biomechanics taking pressure off the lower back, hips, and knees.  

Closing thoughts.

The goal for the majority of athletes is to come to the gym, get in a good, safe training session, and walk out pain free.

The safety bar allows athletes to bypass their mobility limitations (most of the time) and continue to squat safely and correctly while not irritating any problem areas. At the same time they can improve those areas that need extra work.

TLDR: you should definitely utilize the safety squat bar!

Squatting Pain Free; Part 1

Tempo Training:

This week is the first in a three-part series where I want to talk to you about how I modify my athletes’ training to keep them squatting safely. Unfortunately, the average Crossfitter struggles with the squat due to mobility limitations just about anywhere and everywhere in the body. When that is combined with a desk job and the fact that no one wants to spend any time on mobility work (since it’s boring and not social media worthy), it only worsens the issue.

So what do we do when we have ignored our mobility issues for so long, but want to continue to train?

If you don’t want to feel like you are being left behind during the strength portion of class, while everyone else gets to use their cool barbell, my first choice is to slow things down with the athlete and allow them to continue squatting, but at tempo!

Who should be using tempo training?

The simple answer: Everyone! At least anyone who wants to improve strength, mobility and body control. Those three things are how you bulletproof your body to continue to safely improve performance!

But I can’t lift as much weight with tempo training?

Yeah, that’s the point! Athletes should be more concerned about performing a movement correctly then with how much weight they are using. A slower tempo also recruits higher threshold motor units that trigger useful strength and fiber size adaptations.

How can tempo help me from getting hurt?

Most lifting injuries are not one-time traumatic events, but instead overuse injuries from lifting incorrectly. The tempo forces the athlete to slow down and lift a weight safely and correctly with control. This also eliminates the use of unwanted momentum or compensation in order to try to lift a weight.

Tempo training is also good when recovering from injury to increase blood flow to the injured area, gain strength and focus on getting the muscles to work effectively.

Closing thoughts?

Incorporating tempo or the amount of time you spend on each rep is just as important as programming reps, sets and weight. Lifting weights at a prescribed tempo is equally as challenging because it requires a higher level of motor control; it will also be much safer since you can’t lift as much. Make sure to remember that more doesn’t always equal better. The goal for most athletes is to come in, get a good, safe training session and walk out pain free.