Instead of focusing on typical explosive power Thursday, class got down to the business of hitting some heavy front squats.
Lifters could choose the weights they wanted to shoot for during each set, adding weight as needed so long as everyone maintained good form through-out. Happily, there was lots of good from last night, with athletes not only pushing the weight, but really working on good form to accomplish it (including a few PR’s). However, both CFDC and CF Dupont have been hammering a lot of heavy back squats lately, with front squats relegated to Oly complexes and met-cons, so it’s probably not a bad idea to review a few pointers regarding the front squat.
A big key to success with front squats is flexibility/mobility. Strength is fine, but if you can’t get, or keep, your elbows up to properly rack the bar, you are going to struggle mightily. Getting your elbows up, with the triceps parallel to the floor, is essential to keeping the weight centered as close as possible to the body’s mid-line.Add to this a healthy does of hip and ankle flexibility which will allow you to sit back into the squat while keeping the chest up.
Tied to the limitations in flexibility and mobility is the fact that if you have to pour all your concentration into keeping your elbows up, chances are, your knees are probably starting to cave in (hey, if it ain’t one thing, it’s another!). Now the downward spiral begins.
Once the knees start to collapse, you lose mid-line stability, and your core gives way, allowing the upper back to round and the weight to pitch forward. The more you pitch forward, the more the weight will start pulling off your shoulders and into your hands. This will make the lift more difficult due to the awkward distribution of the weight, but more importantly, this precarious position can also quickly put you at risk for injury: in trying to correct the movement, most people will try to re-right themselves using their backs, pulling themselves back up into position (as opposed to driving their elbows up, which will re-center the weight and make it easier to stand up without hurting themselves).
To avoid this situation, make sure you initiate each front squat with the elbows high, and keep them there through-out the entire movement. Initiate the squat by tilting the hips back slightly, accentuating the lumbar arch, and then drive the knees out to slowly lower yourself while maintaining an upright torso position.
Yes, it was the return of the partner-dependant “wall-ball burpees”: P1 performs 1 wall ball, throwing the ball at a slight angle so that it comes down to his/her partner. Immediately after throwing the ball, P1 does a burpee, while at the same time, P2 is performing their wall ball. The trick is to complete the burpee fast enough to be on your feet, ready to catch the ball your partner just threw. Success depends on high wall ball shots and quick burpees (think of the plank-2-squat jumps, as this is one time where they will really make a difference). For Thursday’s workout, each partner had to complete 15 wall-ball burpees a piece, and then do a quick 150m run (Church Run) before starting in on 12 wall-ball burpees each. Following that, it was another quick 250m run, and then a final 9 wall-ball burpees each (no run after the final set of wall-ball burpees).
No back squats this Sunday – instead, we’ll spend the next three weeks working on hamstring and quad accessory movements to build a solid base before we enter the third and final wave of the squat cycle.