Monday January 23, 2012
10-10-10 Or, if you know you can OH Squat your body weight at least once, you will work up to that weight and do it for max consecutive reps. Multiple attempts are acceptable
B. 1 Mile Run
100 Release Pushups
50 OH Squats (95/65)
The Value of the Overhead Squat
You may or may not have noticed it, but I like to program OH Squats, a lot. First, I personally love to OH Squat (despite my terrible neck position, as witnessed at the OC Throwdown). Second, and more importantly, the OH Squat is arguably the single most beneficial movement one can perform. Almost no one outside of CrossFit and Olympic lifting have ever heard of it and are certainly not doing it in their routines. But as I will argue, if you ONLY did OH Squats for the rest of your fitness lives, you would be in better shape than most every gym rat, marathon junkie, and bodybuilder out there.
OMG. The biggest pop word in all of fitness is "core".* But most fitness professionals don't even understand what the core is used for. Plain and simply, the core's main job is to promote and aid in midline stability. In other words, the core protects the spine when the body is in motion. The skull is to the brain as the core is to the spine (remember those little gems from the SAT?). In my opinion, there is no exercise more potent in its ability to strengthen the core than the OH Squat. It is impossible to execute a body weight OH Squat with a soft, broken core.** As we know, everything must be tight and engaged to successfully OH Squat a near maximal load. The core muscles are recruited heavily to ensure the load remains firmly positioned overhead and to ensure the spine is neutral and protected. You can do all the situps in the world, but your core will still suck. As you can see below, the abs are just one piece of the puzzle that make up the core.
Sports and Performance Application
Improved core strength, greater mobility and flexibility, improved thoracic stability/flexibility, huge central nervous responses, increased power and explosiveness. What athlete would scoff and turn away from these adaptations? These are just some benefits from including OH Squats in your training. Stabilizing a load over head while simultaneously squatting promotes shoulder stability, balance, coordination, and accuracy. You can only imagine the application to a downhill skier wanting sharper turns, a wide receiver going up for a jump ball, or a an MMA fighter wanting to his takedowns. For us weekend warriors, casual athletes, and house moms, we can expect increased CrossFit performance, improvements in any physical task that comes up, and bragging rights that you are doing what all your yoga and zumba friends can't do!
Lastly, the OH Squat is the single most important element in the full snatch. The snatch is the single most badass, challenging, potent, and downright effective weight lifting movement in the book. Getting a barbell from the ground to the overhead position in one beautifully executed motion includes over half of CrossFit's 10 general characteristics of fitness and likens itself to the complexity and lifelong learning endeavors such as the golf swing, playing an instrument (well), and certain gymnastics movements. Coaches and athletes devote their whole life to learning and performing the snatch at the highest level including the Olympic Games. Anyway, the snatch does not exist without a rock solid OH Squat. In addition, I once read an article where high school athletes only did OH Squats for 6 weeks. They tested and re-tested (after the 6 weeks) their max pushups, mile run, situps, back squat max, etc etc and most athletes PR'ed on all movements across the board. This small "study" just reinforces the fact that so many aspects of fitness improve when the OH Squat is employed religiously.
So, instead of just telling you, "Sorry gang, you are doing OH Squats again just because I feel like it", I thought I would explain some of the reasoning behind the madness. Hopefully you learned that if and when you find yourself on the Lost island after a plane crash, while everyone else is doing group pilates and curling jugs of water, you will quietly hoist up a tree branch and go about your 5x3.
*It really might be "toned", but let's cross that bridge on another day. I can only deal with one fitness misconception at a time
**Core muscles include the abs, obliques, pelvic muscles, low back muscles, mid back muscles, and the diaphragm