Movement of the Month
The Air Squat
What better movement to launch our movement of the month series with than the beloved air squat.
Do you want to be able to get off the toilet when you’re 80? By yourself?
Do you want some cartilage left in those knees of yours in 10 years?
Do you want to be able to overhead squat your bodyweight for reps?
Do you want to be an all-around Bad-A?
If you said yes to all of these then you understand the need to be able to squat correctly. I know that the air squat is way less sexy to talk about than a super ninja clean & jerk, but without some solid fundamentals in the air squat…. then cleans, snatches, overhead squats, front squats, back squats, and wall ball shots would be more difficult (and more dangerous) to master.
Points of performance:
Note the second and third frame where the dude initiates the movement by sending his hips (or ‘hamstrings’) back and down, like when you have your hands full of groceries and you have to close the car door. This immediately gets your weight off of your toes and allows you to keep more of a vertical shin so your knees do not track way forward over your toes. His heels are on the ground the whole time so much that when he’s at the bottom of that squat he could wiggle his toes because the majority of the weight is on the mid-foot. He is keeping his hands up to ensure his chest stays up. Simultaneously, this is helping to keep the lumbar spine flat so to not appear like a pooping dog.
Kelly Starrett in the amazing book “Supple Leopard” sets up his ‘Principles of Squatting’ section and says it best:
“I will break down the squat in detail, and describe how poor squatting mechanics and missing ranges of motion can lead to back, hip, knee, and ankle pain. I will also detail how poor squatting mechanics can transfer over to repetitive, more dynamic movements such as running and jumping. The bottom line is that if you want to optimize performance and escape pain and injury, it’s imperative that you learn how to squat correctly.”
Screw your feet into the ground. Some people say it as screw your hips into the ground. You heard right, physically try to create an external rotation of the hips so hard that if your feet were on paper plates, your toes would spin outward. This is the key movement that creates maximum torque. It’s also the move that makes your knees ‘drive out’ towards your pinky toes. The opposite and weakest move would be if you let your knees come together. So, just think about screwing your feet into the ground and really spread the earth apart during each rep. Try it real quick!
Sam Steen is the owner and head coach at CrossFit Pampa.