You could write a book on this topic but I’m about to give you three good reasons why we squat all the time in CrossFit workouts:
1) BUILDING THE POSTERIOR CHAIN
In the vast, vast majority of new CrossFitters, the posterior chain is underdeveloped and often unusable. (As a side note, if you think you’re a badass CrossFitter, go to a Westside powerlifting cert and you’ll find out just how weak your posterior is too) The posterior chain consists of the muscles starting behind the knee, running up the back of your leg, to your butt, and up to your lower back. These are the muscles that extend your hips, the most crucial movement for athletic performance. Developing and challenging these muscles also signals to your body that it’s time to get serious and adapt to become more athletic. While many of the things we do in CrossFit training challenge and develop the posterior chain, no CrossFit exercise is more central or more important to this than squatting.
2) NEURO-ENDOCRINE RESPONSE
No other CrossFit exercises stimulate the secretion of desirable hormones, such as testosterone, like the squat. This a fundamental piece of the CrossFit methodology – we must focus on hormones in our athletic training and drive for healthier lives. The bottom line is that a more healthy balance of testosterone to estrogen will result in more muscle, less fat, better athletic performance, and yes, you will look better naked – you can’t argue with that. And if we have to knock down the old boogeyman of women “bulking-up,” just remember that due to our diet and environmental pollutants, both men and women’s bodies are awash in estrogen and substances that act like estrogen. This situation causes a whole host of problems. Fight back against muscular atrophy, female reproductive cancers, and osteoporosis… SQUAT!!!
3) GETTING STRONG!
People step into the CrossFit gym for many reasons. It is true that an athlete may be overweight or they get winded easily, but they are also usually very weak. This is a problem for several reasons. First, a weak person is much more susceptible to injury. By lifting weights and getting stronger, an athlete will develop tougher and more resilient joints and connective tissues. They will also have a more robust body and constitution. Remember Rip’s old quote, “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.” In addition to preparing the body for life, higher strength levels will allow for harder training in our conditioning workouts. You will move better, faster, and heavier weights in your CrossFit workouts as you train and achieve your goal of becoming a light bulb-eating, nail-bending, phonebook ripping, badass, ruthless, CrossFitter.
Hopefully, I’ve pulled back the curtain and shown why the squat is the basis of CrossFit training and community. While everything we do is just one of many skills that we must improve at and eventually master, squatting is the foundation. Consider your CrossFit routines to be squatting with a lot of other stuff mixed in. And if in your current boot camp or fitness classes, you find yourself dancing around like an idiot more often than you find yourself in the bottom of a squat, you may want to reevaluate your training.