Starting out in Crossfit, what’s the one movement you should master first?
What’s the one that will set you up for future success?
If you don’t get good at it, what’s the one that will hold you back from getting good at back squats, front squats, and overhead squats?
Enter air squats.
Perfect Air Squats Will Set You Up For Future Success
Before I got into Crossfit, I was really into a martial art called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
I vividly remember my first three months: I got tapped out a lot (aka I was terrible so people were able to choke me).
I got frustrated after a while (because getting choked out sucks) and I started floundering for how to get better.
An older student suggested that I focus on one thing and go from there. You know, develop a signature move that was the foundation of my technique.
I was already decent (better than terrible) at this thing called a kimura. So I decided to practice that. A lot.
I drilled it. A lot.
I found out different ways to apply it. A lot.
I worked it over and over and over.
Guess what happened?
I went from being the ‘tappee’ to the ‘tapper’. I started winning against a lot more people (primarily children and guys the size of Tom Cruise).
Surprisingly, it was much easier to learn and apply new techniques after that. My technique acquisition skyrocketed by getting good at one basic move.
When I moved to Crossfit, I found that the same principle applied. I got really good at some basic movements, and that set me up for future success with more complex weightlifting and gymnastic movements.
Now it’s your turn.
The Secret to Perfect Air Squats
- Place your heels shoulder width apart – toes angled slightly out
- Stand up nice and big and tall with hands on your hips (like Super-man or Wonder-woman)
- Make a diamond in front of your face with your hands
- Sit your hips out and back like you’re sitting into a chair
- Lower down until your hips are even with your knees
- Pop right back up to hands on hips.
- Shoving your knees out as you squat will activate more muscles and add stability to your squat.
- You can also try using the cue “spread the floor apart”.
- Whichever you use, you should feel like you are on the outside edge of your foot and not collapsing in at the ankle.
Don’t do an Eeyore squat! Use your hip flexors to pull you down into the squat to help reinforce the arch in your lower back.
- Lay down flat on your back.
- Arch your back on the floor. You should feel space between your lower back and the floor.
- Raise your knees up so that it looks like you’re doing a squat in the air (or trying to push out a baby). Fire your hip flexors by simultaneously pulling your knees towards your chest while pushing your knees away with your hands.
- Stand up and repeat. Fire your hip flexors to start pulling your knees to your chest. This will cause you to pull into a squat and maintain tension on your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
Air Squat – How to feel proper depth
It’s important you learn what proper depth feels like. You won’t always be able to use a medicine ball or another object to find your depth.
Slowly pull down until you feel like the tension in your quads (front of the leg) transfers to your glutes and hamstrings (aka your butt).
Build a Foundation for Success
There’s a lot of movements to learn in Crossfit.
So much so that it can seem overwhelming.
It’s better to focus on getting really good at one movement first instead of sorta decent at a bunch of movements.
By getting really good at air squats, you’ll lay a foundation that will make back squats, front squats, and overhead squats exponentially easier to learn.
Build your foundation first.