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Back Squat


If you're a novice lifter with a few weeks of back squatting under your belt, go for a heavy single to get a bench mark.  Don't attempt a weight you're not 100% sure will go up.

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compare to 12.11.11

Assistance Work
100 Kettlebell Swings in as few sets as possible

Luca L Deadlifts Three Wheels


Getting Ready To Squat

By Coach Margie

When you approach a loaded bar, make the decision to be there. Develop your Set Up. This is not the time to saunter up, ease yourself into position and expect to manage maximal loads successfully. As strong as you may be, if you are not mentally prepared to own the barbell, well… the barbell will win every time.

As simple as squatting is, it takes all your guts to do it right.

There are two parts to your Set Up: getting underneath the bar, and preparing to squat it.

Getting underneath the bar:

1)     Mentally psych yourself up to lift the weight. Get mad, excited, juiced, pumped, jump around, curse at the bar, or go deep within yourself and find that quiet place of absolute certainty. Whatever. Experiment to find your intensity and focus.

2)     Now, get underneath the bar and get a good strong rack position. Make sure the bar is wedged in tight between your hands and your shoulders. Build stability by finding tension in your upper body: remember this is where the weight will sit, so you want to create a firm shelf, not some namby pamby, twiggy little thing that will snap in two. If you have a low bar rack, raise your elbows up behind you, and push the heels of your hands against the bar. If you have a high bar rack, grip the bar tightly and push up against it.

3)     Take a big breath into your belly, hold it and bear down. Your stomach should get fatter. Now squeeze your butt and stand up confidently with the weight on your back.

4)     Walk back two or three steps and set your feet.

Preparing to squat:

1)     Let the bar settle on your shoulders.

2)     Make sure your rack position is still tight.

3)     Take another big breath into your belly and bear down. Get fat!

4)     Now SQUAT!

This is your ritual; use it every time you play with a barbell.

Happy lifting!

Watch this video to see exactly what we're talking about

Tell us how your Squats went!
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Reader Comments (27)

Boneless pork shoulder - fixed. Thanks, Ben!


April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermig

Super rough night Tuesday. Not sure what happened, but my squat shit the bed...

Squat: 325x2, then 325x1 and 325xF
I had intended to go for 6 which would have been a PR. Warmups were good. (295 felt A-OK) and then at work weight I had a hard time controlling my descent and collapsed at the bottom.

Bench: 205x3
Jeremy said I'm lowering the bar way too slowly. This habit has gotten extreme so now I need to get back to a true touch and go bench as opposed to the paused bench I've made habit.

Skipped the deads and practice a few benches and called it. Hope I bounce back (out of the hole) next week and destroy it.

April 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterRob Is

Lovely 6am with Coach Josh. Deadlift 1RM. Warm up:



355x1 (old PR)

Very psyched with these numbers. A 400lb deadlift is in spitting distance.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Fun (and epically exhausting) 7am class with Coach Josh.

I PRd my squat with 185! It's not as high as I had hoped, but I'll take the 40# jump from the last total ;) I could feel exactly what I was doing wrong on my last attempt (since it happened 3 times at that point) so I think next time I will have no problem mentally preparing to NOT lift my ass up before my chest. Anyway I'm proud of my new PR and happy to have it. 200# is right around the corner!

Attempt 1 - 175
Attempt 2 - 185
Attempt 3 - 195 Fail
Attempt 3 - 195 Fail
Attempt 3 - 190 Fail

Then I did 100kb swings 1 pood in 3 sets 4:50 I think I could have done it in two sets, but was totally burnt out after the squats.

Anyway, now I'm eating a giant plate of chicken, kale, and sweet potatoes, and life is good ;)

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLana Z

My Dr. called me last night to review the MRI on my knee that I had last week.

Apparently I have tendonitis in my lower quad tendon which connect somehow to my knee. He said to avoid strenuous exercise, and to do lots of low weight leg curls high reps." Doing 100 at 10 pounds is better than 10 at 100lbs"

Ive read on the blog numerous times abt how conservative or how ancient Drs perception of treatment is regarding folks who are regularly active. If they are "misinformed" why should I trust his diagnosis? Does anyone have a trust worthy orthopedist that I could schedule a visit with that will read the mri film with me?

Also interested in coaches take.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdh3

I PR'ed 170#. Josh was on point as usual.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathan R.

All I can think about today is squatting. So much work to do, an apartment to get, and I'm just bouncing my legs up and down thinking about getting under the bar. 4 wheels.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoel W.

Squatted last night at open gym, continuing on my linear progression: 130x5x3.

Then 100kb swings @ 12kg. Did 50 unbroken then 50 one-handed, which Allan said was cheating because I really should have done 100 one-handed to equal 50 two-handed. Maybe I'll do 50 more one-handed at home today just to make sure. :P

My grip is one thing that I'm having to work to re-build post-partum, both for things like KB swings and for heavy deadlifts. Per Jeremy's advice I did 3x 10-15 second bar dead hangs after the KB swings.

Good luck to everyone going for a 1RM today!

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBethany B.

Squatted 122#--a PR! Yay! Downside--my lower back is now killing me. Any advice? 100 kb swings 12kg 3 sets of 30 and then one of 10

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermartha

SQUAT 155x5x3
BENCH 105x5x3
DL 205x5

I took Monday off because my back was killing me since last Wednesday, figured the extra two days would be helpful. Went down on the squats just to make sure. The weight was fine had no issues, just have to wait and see how I feel when I wake up later today. Bench felt pretty good no issues with the shoulder. Deadlift felt fine. I've gained a few pounds so that's always good, now up to 171. Surprisingly I handled watching everyone PR their squats pretty well, I only pined for the good old days a little bit. Slow and steady wins the race (at least that's what I keep telling myself)

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCloyde

(martha, i've never had low-back pain from squatting. but i *always* get low back pain from kettlebell swings.... 100 would kill me.)

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Good 7am group today. Lots of people supporting each other under Josh's watchful eye. Two big PRs for me. 365 squat (up 30) and 425 dead lift (up 50!). Now on to New Orleans for my bachelor party. Crush week will hurt.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave E

@Martha, I am going to second what Michele said.

Also, I just wanted to mention, that I have this really adorable (nerdy) excel spreadsheet with all the 'CrossFit Levels' movements/weights listed on it, and a place for me to check off a box when I accomplish it. Today, with my new backsquat PR I just checked off the first box at Level 3! This makes me really really happy :)

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLana Z


tendonitis is an acute inflammation of tissue. Meaning the tissue above and around your knee is feeling hot and bothered. Before considering exercise, I would try to attack that inflammation directly.
- Icing directly 2-3x per day, especially after any exercise
- Doing some hunting with a LAX ball and Foam roller on your quads, suprapatellar pouch and even down into your lower leg. If you find anwhere that's particularly hot, see if you can't work it out and observe whether that decreases symptoms.
- Fish Oil, good sleep and anti-inflammatory diet (paleo with lots of greens) should be more importnat now than ever
- An you can consider topical ointments like Arnicare. If symptoms persist you might try some IBP for a short while. I would do IBP as a last resort.
-You'll also have to consider your total training volume (when was the last time you took a back off?) onset (when did you start feeling this) and history (what are the things that made it feel better, worse or the same)

From there, I would assess movement on a case by case basis. If a particular movement pattern doesn't bother you, I would do it with perfect form, if something else does, either high rep or high weight, keep it on the back burner for now.

Here are some MOBs you might consider to start your witch hunt in the lower leg:






*This is just my opinion, I'm no Doc and can't diagnose, just where I'm currently at with my thinking on these issues. You can never hurt to get a second opinion, usually the more athletic clients or background a doc has the better they are at treating musculoskeletal issues.

Back Pain,
Without seeing any one move right now, my thought process would be two fold.

1. What do your swings look like? Are you hyper-extending and not bracing your abdomen? I would want to see the swings first.

2. Are your hip flexors tight? At this point I'd say about 90%+ of the people who have come to me with low back discomfort after things like KB, squatting, Wall Ball have tight hips and find some relief and ungluing their psoas.

For you guys:




Hope that helps.


April 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Congrats Dave! It was fun to watch you squat a Yugo .

I PR’d at 215. Things are starting to feel heavy but in a good way. I finally see what the mental preparation is about. I’ve never approached anything above 200 so it was interesting to feel the surge of nervousness approaching the bar. I was instantly questioning my resolve but that melted away once I got underneath and focused on my form.

Thanks to Coach Josh for the crucial spot and encouraging shout. You set an excellent tone for a 1 RM day.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGabriel Bermeo

PRed my back squat today at 150# (up from 145#) but was pretty disappointed that I didn't hit the 155# mark. I had convinced myself I would do it but then failed twice and had to back off. Thanks to Josh for helping me with my bails and to Lana for being an awesome partner - even though I'm incredibly jealous looking at your loaded up barbell ;)

On to press - can't wait for 7am tomorrow!

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKH

ugh, I haven't been to class in over a week and I'm ashamed. I had a cold for a couple of days and then I just got lazy. I have some catching up to do!

I'm assuming there's a meat delivery tonight, but I don't see anything on the site about it. Can anyone confirm?

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan M

Alan - yes there's a meat delivery 6-8pm. We don't usually post about it, but I sent a reminder email earlier this week. Perhaps you aren't on my list? Shoot me an email margie at crossfitsouthbrooklyn.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMargie

There is a meat delivery tonight, Margie sent an email out about it.

I'll be on the squat rack tonight, too bad I missed Cloyde!

@DH3, feel better! the closest thing that I have gotten to that is something that sounds very similar, after a rough night out, known as "pretendinitis."

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJR

Anybody interested in trying the fabulous meat share this month? If so you can email me at inka.hodes@gmail.com. Cheers!

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterInka

Bench (with sets of 3 chins throughout)
185x5, 215x5, 235x13
db press
db row
80x15 each arm
weighted backpack jog home 1.1 miles or some shit...lots of walking.

is it too late to start up a meatshare? Can I play? Please?

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergabrus

Well that was frustrating. Hit 355, came up fast, went to hit my old PR at 375, which I was hoping would just be a stepping stone to a bigger number and got stuck and bailed too quickly, rather than fighting the bar. I felt quite crappy about this, feel frankly, despite people at the gym being remarkably understandable as I stewed petulantly. I said to Fox that I was particularly frustrated given that I had just hit 330x5, which he of course pointed out to me was a PR, so, you know, I got a PR of some sort last week, which was appreciated. Just have to keep getting stronger.

It was nonetheless great to watch people like Ben and Melissa hit PRs, not to mention McKensey. Apologies if I brought people down with my moodiness.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoel w

220xfail because of unneeded assistance via spotter
225x1 pr
230x1 pr

24k KB 50+30+20=100 in 3 rounds

Oh yeah! New pr on Double-unders--25.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H.

Nice, all you PR people!

I think I'm going to give this a shot on Friday morning, since unlike yesterday when I ate practically nothing, I've been able to eat a bit more today. Bodes well for fueling up tomorrow.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStella

I would go see Dr. Metzl for a second opinion.
I went to see him when I hurt my knee, he is a triathlete and specializes I working with athletes. He was very enthusiastic upon hearing my routine and I liked his diagnosis. He is located on the east side.

April 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterSarah la Rosa

Oh, and I would increase the icing to 5x a day. You can get a wash tub and do submersion ice baths, so you can move it around. If you are applying direct ice don't do it for more than five minutes at a time, if it is indirect (ice pack+towel) then you can do 20 min. The area should be fully warm before you apply the next icing.

April 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterSarah la Rosa

Did my squats on Tues.
255 X1
285 X1
295 X1
300 X1
305 X1 (Bareeeeely)

April 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames K

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