You Have to Air Squat Before You Overhead Squat!

Written by Zach Erick for

Karla OHS at Invictus Athletes Camp

You Have to Air Squat Before You Overhead Squat!
Written by Zach Erick

It’s very easy to be wooed at the sight of Games athletes performing flawless muscle-ups and flipping 500 lb objects with ease. It should go without saying that these competitors have trained years and years to get to that level. They too were once a novice struggling with handstand walks and pistol squats until they started following a program that was geared towards their athletic ability and progressed. After finishing one program, they started another that upped the intensity, weight, and difficulty of the movements. Eventually they were performing at a competitive level and began to succeed in the sport of CrossFit.

If you’re not a competitor, don’t jump into a competitor’s training program. I recently had the opportunity to speak with someone who was brand new to CrossFit. They were very eager to progress in the sport, and after speaking with them about the program they wanted to follow, and their current work schedule, I quickly realized that the individual needed to reassess his athletic ability.

First off, when committing to a program, it has to work around YOUR schedule. Too many times I’ve seen people in the gym, Monday through Saturday, giving it their all – then nowhere to be found for the next two weeks. Fitness is a lifelong journey; there’s no reason to sprint off the starting line. No matter how motivated you are, you have to remember that unless your goals are to become a professional exerciser, the gym is going to have to work with the kids, work, school, and relationships. It’s more important to be consistent over a long period of time rather than sporadic over a short period (even if you are going to the gym five days a week).

Another common error I see in new exercisers is a lack of discipline and virtuosity when it comes to fundamentals. Everyone wants to overhead squat 225 lbs, even before they can even air squat. I like to think of the transition from fundamentals to advanced movements kind of like the belt system in martial arts. We all start off as white belts, and we can’t progress, or fully understand the movements of a black belt, until we master the task at hand (the basics). Sure, muscle-ups look cool, but when you tear your rotator cuff because you wanted to look cool, instead of working on strict pull-ups and ring dips, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Why is the right program so critical to your growth as an athlete? Think of yourself as a pyramid. The most basic of movements at the bottom, and the most difficult at the top. If you start with a solid base, it’s only a matter of time until you put that last block on the top of the pyramid. However, if you begin a program that’s beyond your athletic abilities, you might as well be trying to build a pyramid upside down. You’re going to end up with blocks everywhere and you will have made no progress, regardless of how many times you come to the gym.

We’re all impatient with our athletic goals. We want that ten extra pounds gone today, not tomorrow. We want to snatch our bodyweight by the end of the week, not by the end of the year. This is the type of mentality that injures our bodies and the CrossFit name. We get enough flack from the media as it is,  so please, for the sake of your well-being, goals, and legitimacy of CrossFit, walk before you run, pull-up before you muscle-up, and AIR SQUAT BEFORE YOU OVERHEAD SQUAT!

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