How to get through Heavy Squats: Physical and Mental Key Points
Please note, this goes out to y’all who actually know how to/are able to squat efficiently with correct posture and mechanics. If you DON’T then join us in CrossFit 353 or holla and I’ll teach you the ways personally. Contact me here (I will also do a post soon on how to actually squat). Remember my tag line always “In Squats We Trust”. #gospel
Today I was squatting heavy. The video is of my 5 rep max (5rm) back squat at 132.5kg. Last week my Prodigy Barbell coach, Sami Dowling, had programmed me to hit 5 reps as heavy as I could as part of my session and I got 127.5. So this week I moved up 5kg (I was going to go 130kg but fellow CrossFit353 Coach/bestie/booty builder/Celtic Cup team mate Gary Featherstone agreed I should stop pissing about and go 132.5kg). The most important thing that I have to do when squatting (and lifting anything for that matter) is believing I can do it, and committing to the lift. However, here are more points to note which always help me…
What I cue myself PHYSICALLY during these reps:
BREATHE AND RELAX – I force myself to believe I am comfortable. This slows down my heart rate and prevents me from panicking.
DEEP BREATH, BRACE HARD – ensures I have oxygen; I breathe in, brace HARD and hold my breath throughout the lift (again if you do not know how to brace properly, you are missing out on massive improvements across all strength and conditioning movements. Again, holla and I will teach you the ways #plug ).
STRAIGHT DOWN, HEELS – this forces me to not hinge massively forward and to drive the pressure through my heels.
DRIVE UP, KNEES OUT – makes sure I drive straight up and keep my knees from caving in so that I use my bootay (so, so key).
BREATHE, STAY TIGHT AND RELAX – In between reps I focus on taking a few breaths to slow down my heart rate and let the blood flow properly so that I don’t pass out. This would not be ideal. Going into my last rep here, I knew the 4th one was difficult…and knew I needed a second or two longer at the top before going again to ensure I’d get it. I was also convincing myself that I felt good and to stay even straighter and lead with my chest to nail the last one…it worked 😉
(REPEAT AS ABOVE)
What I cue myself MENTALLY during these reps:
Before the exercise – visualising yourself doing a good rep before carrying out the movement is crucial, as it prepares your brain for what you’re about to do. Once your brain sees it, the neurological paths have been prepped so that your body can just do the task at hand.
Before the Lifts – I tell myself it’s going to be heavy and won’t be easy. I don’t freak myself out but just respect and acknowledge the weight while still keeping the faith. Once I’ve admitted that to myself, I know I won’t shock myself or freak out mid lift when I realise “oh shite this is heavy”. What’s the point in having the weight on the bar if you’re going to bottle it? JUST COMMIT.
The Walk Out – get both feet under the bar, breathe in, brace and squat it up – make it a pretty and strong walk out. This way, you are comfortable and not all over the shop before you attempt to squat. If your walk out is messy, it will take your focus away from what you are supposed to be doing. My fellow CrossFit 353/Prodigy/bestie swolemate Swandy (aka Andy Hickey – he’s swole and his name is Andy) always reminds me of this point. Extremely key. Well done Swandy. Unfortunately on my walk out here, there was a guy beside me, so just had to double check I had enough clear way #gymproblems
During the Lifts – stay committed ON EACH REP. Commit as much to your first one as your last. The better you do your first one, the better your last will be. One thing I always tell my clients is; when you hit a dark patch/sticking point DON’T STOP DRIVING. If you slow down it is ok! You are fighting gravity, you’re not supposed to be able to just glide up easy if you’re trying to hit an uber heavy squat…otherwise it’s too feckin’ easy. So calm the frook down when you hit that point and just keep pushing up, even if you feel like an absolute snail. DO NOT look down as that’s the opposite direction in which you need to move. #science
And that’s that. After a max squat you will more than likely be a little shaky…as I was. Sure look, it’s all for a good cause. Next week I’ll just commit to going heavier. And so on. #InSquatsWeTrust