Took part in Coach Stew’s squat clinic this afternoon. Learned a lot about these lifts. It was definitely time well spent to learn how to refine and improve the various squats.

We started with the air squat. Focusing on the primary elements. Stew talked a lot about the sequence of the air squat and reinforced how it’s really important to do the air squat well because it’s the foundation of so many other lifts and exercises.

My air squat is reasonably sound. In fact, Stew called me and another athlete out to demonstrate our “mature” squats to the class. It means we keep our chest up all the way through the range of motion and that’s a good thing. However, I did discover today that for this exercise and all squat related lifts, I really have to focus on starting by pushing my hips back. It’s real easy to forget that and just bend my knees dropping my backside straight down. Not ideal for balance. So that was my  first takeaway of the day.

We moved onto back squats and that was solid. I kicked off my Innov-8’s and just went barefoot immediately after practicing with the 45# bar. I could feel my right ankle rolling around inside my shoe. Definitely have a better sense of my feet when barefoot. Still not sure I’m investing in lifting shoes yet. We’ll see.

Since today was all about technique and form, plus we were covering several lifts over 2 hours, Stew was very clear that we shouldn’t even attempt weights approaching our 1RMs. So we used moderate weights that provided a good challenge, but allowed us to do anywhere from 3-5 really good reps.

From back squats it was onto front squats. This was where I had my second “ah ha” moment of the day. I still want to breathe using “old school” breathing techniques where you breathe in on half the rep and out on the other half of the same rep. This really doesn’t work well for front squats. If you inhale at the top, squat down, and then exhale as you try to rise again, you’re chest caves in. Your torso rolls forward. The core collapses. Your elbows drop and the weight pitches forward. I’ve been told this before. I mostly get it right in practice, but because today was all about technique, the point really drove home during these lifts. Gotta remember. Inhale at the top. Hold that breath through the entire rep. Re-breath when I get back to the top.

After front squats, overhead squats. These really felt good. We didn’t push the weights at all here. We’d done two different lifts, the airsquats and a lightning quick backsquat METCON already. Plus, Stew had told us we had one more METCON coming. So we hung back a bit.

The final METCON of the day: 21-15-9 Overhead squats with a PVC pipe and burpees. After everything else we’d done today…4:16. I’m pretty good with that. All in all, I really feel like I came away from the class with a better understanding of the lifts covered and now have a better understanding of my own idiosynchracies within each lift. That’s good information to have.

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