Approaching the Bar

You’ve been thinking about today’s strength move throughout day. The Squat has been something that you have been working on for a while now. As always, the camaraderie at the gym is positive and the community is like family. You are feeling good today and the warm ups have gone well so far.

You’ve heard it all before. “Big breath.” “Tighten your core.” “Track your knees over your toes.” “Vertical shins.” “Eyes forward.” “Keep your chest up.” “Get past parallel.” “Stay in your heels.” “Hips!”

As you move in to approach the bar………

I like to think that I have always been in good shape. As a high school and college athlete I lifted weights. Chest and Back 2x per week, Shoulders and Arms 2x per week. Leg day…..no such thing. As an adult, I continued to lift (still no leg day) to stay in shape. I started to work in some cardio and I began to run. I even completed a Marathon. Eventually I faded away from the barbell. P90X became a big part of my routine. If you have ever followed P90X, there are Leg days in there. However, I modified those days and completed only the Back portion of the Legs and Back day.

At forty-six years old I became one of the founding members of The Coliseum Strength and Conditioning. Wouldn’t you know it, Day 1 Baseline – air squats! My decent cardio got me through that one but boy do I remember my legs being sore the next day. Then it arrived, a day of strength that centered on the Squat. I had never squatted before – never. All the days of blowing off legs for the last thirty years were in my face.

So I listened and tried.

Every coach was patient with me and told me that it would come. I could not get it right. Embarrassed because everyone else was getting it, I continued to add weight to the bar even though I knew that my form was not proper. I could not believe that I was unable to squat correctly. I could not, and did not follow posted rule number two – Leave your ego at the door. Even though my back was killing me the next day from doing it wrong, the following week I kept doing it……wrong. The coaches called me out on it, and rightfully so. However, when the coaches were not looking, I added more weight, and when I logged my results in my notebook or Wodify, I put it in……..a lie. Ego is a funny and painful thing.

When I went for my Level 1 Certificate Course, boy did those guys rip me a new one. Of course, they were saying the same thing that our coaches were saying. That is part of the beauty of CrossFit – a common message. But I guess that is where it finally hit me. We must maintain the integrity of the movement and be safe. Throwing heavy weight around can be dangerous, especially if we are not doing it right.

So I listened and tried.

This time I pulled the weight off the bar, incorporated those cues that the coaches had taught me, and truly left my ego at the door. It has taken me over a year, but I finally squat correctly (most of the time). I am not yet even close to the goal that I put on the chalkboard many months ago, but I am OK with that now. My lifts are well below those lies in my notebook, but the weight is slowly starting to increase. I am not terribly sore the next day anymore, and I have not gotten injured.

I know the cues, and I use them when I coach our members. Yes, there are a lot of them, and yes in order to perfect the movement we have to follow them. As we practice them each week, our muscle memory will take over and they will become automatic if we have been doing them correctly over time. On any given day when I squat now, I listen to our coaches and concentrate on one or two of the cues in order to strive to perfect that aspect of the squat. The next week, I concentrate on one or two different aspects.

As coaches, we will coach all the proper components of the movement at the beginning of the strength portion of class. However, we will not going to give you a laundry list of errors each time you are about to complete a set. A few good cues to help your growth will be provided. As a member, keep my story in mind and know that you have been coached well.

As you move in to approach the bar…….

Concentrate on one or two aspects of the movement. Truly listen to and incorporate what the coaches have taught you. Don’t make the mistakes that I made. Over time, your muscle memory will take over and your weight will increase. Maintain the integrity of the movement. It is the safe way, and the only way to lift. Now go get it done!

See you at the gym.

Coach Brian