Tag Archives: squat

Squats, squats and more squats

Squats are most definitely one of the best exercises you can do. Not only do they increase your heart rate thus helping to burn fat but they give you a really good bum! 

  
Far too many times I see people not doing squats properly, now I don’t claim to be the queen of squats and sometimes I’ve heard the ‘no rep’ from my coach but It is important to squat properly, to reap the benefits and to avoid injury.

  

I used to squat when I went to the gym by myself but never really knew how to complete a squat properly. You might think oh a squats easy, anyone can do it but you’d be wrong there can be lots of factors that prevent people from being able to squat.

After I started crossfit, I began to follow a programme with my partner Josh and soon saw my squat numbers increase by quite a margin. After all a good squat is crucial in so many crossfit movements from wall balls, olympic lifts to thrusters and even box jumps. If you know how to move well through a squat movement then you have a good base.

  I followed the Smolov program whilst training with my other half and my 1rm went from 100kg to 115kg which I was super happy with. If you want a link to Smolov have a look here, you work out your percentages and then go from there it’s a great programme that can help to increase your numbers. I followed the junior program.

Smolov
Ok so tips for a good squat. First you need to begin with a basic air squat.

Feet on the floor standing straight. Then push your bum backwards and squat down, you need to make sure your knees track in alignment with your toes and that your hips break parallel. If you struggle with the latter then try working on your ankle range and if you really find it tricky try squatting onto a bench or med ball first to develop better range. The ought the movement keep your weight on your heels and your back straight, try to engage your core. 

  
If you have a good air squat then build this up until your confident to move with a bar. Now I go for a high bar hold meaning I balance the bar quite high up on my back but this is just what feels comfortable for me you may prefer to have the bar resting lower.

Then complete your squat the same as you did with the air squat. Keep your core tight and knee tracking over your toes. You don’t want to see this at the bottom of your squat  

 
Here my left knee in particular is not where it should be!

Make sure you increase the weight only when you are comfortable with what you are doing. I rarely attempt 1rm but spend a lot of time working around 65-85% of my max. 

If you can squat and keep your heels flat on the floor then great, if you think you may need some help then invest in some lifting shoes but remember they don’t do all the work for you! 

Points to remember 

  • Knees tracking over toes
  • Feet shoulder width apart or wider if you prefer a ️Powerlifting stance
  • Engage your core
  • Tight back, engage your upper back
  • Weight on heels
  • Hips below parallel 



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Sock gainz! 

Now recently you may have noticed the explosion of socks onto the crossfit arena! They have become a vital item in the crossfit wardrobe for both men and women.

The crazier the better, with colours being splashed all over socks as well as pictures such as these Dollar or Gorrilla ones below which are available from my sponsors Ares at the bargain price of £8.99.

   
 
And something for the girls…

  
I was hesitant to join in the sock game but I actually love them and love how they can finish off an outfit, I don’t wear them fully pulled up but just enough to see the pattern or colour.

Available at :Ares socks free delivery too

Another brand that is rocking the sock work is Stance socks who stock a massive range. 

   
 
They look awesome and are perfect length for working out, these are stocked by the London based shop Whatever it takes and available online

Whatever it takes
Check out the socks, every time I’ve worn my Ares ones I’ve hit a pb…. Just saying 🙂 


Muscle ups; progressions and transitions

I did my first muscle up in Thailand last year, I spent 20 minutes everyday on the rings for a month before I got my first one! It was such an awesome feeling, afeing of accomplishment. 

However, since that day I hadn’t done anymore. Muscle ups rarely come up in workouts, they are somewhat of a party trick that only really come up in competitions or Hero wods. 

Since last summer I had gotten a lot stronger but had also gained muscle mass so knew I wouldn’t just fly up on the rings. With this in my mind I spent my summer doing various progressions that would lead to more efficient muscle ups. 

  
If you want to muscle up you need to be able to do a pull up! Sorry to say but I believe you need to have that basic, raw strength to be able to pull your body weight up. In order to help you get your first pull ups, use a band to put your feet in and start practising them before every session.   

Dips are another exercise that you need to be competent with, I am not good at these but I keep practising. I practise these using a band and put one knee in the band and complete 5 x 5 at least twice a week. 

Ring rows are another brilliant exercise that can be used to practise pulling your body up to the rings, remember to keep your body and core right. 

A great exercise I have done this summer is a muscle up transition using a box. I placed the rings at just above hip height and stand on a box approximately 30cms high. On my toes I then go through the transition of a muscle up, dip, go beneath the rings, pull up to rings, head through and push up to extend arms. These were really tough when I started and made even harder by wearing a 14lbs weighted vest. 

 So then I came to have a go at a muscle up, a year later than my first one and to my surprise I did it and it was much easier than I thought. The time and effort I had put in to working both transitions and progressions had paid off. 

Both my transitions and my muscle up videos are on Instagram, check it out hannah_j_lewis 

 


Pb City

Apoligies for being quiet on here recently, I have been poorly. I took a few days rest as think I have been over training a little and not fuelling my body enough.

This morning was my first session and I decided to give olympic lifting a go as it wouldn’t get me out of breath and plus it’s my favourite. 

We worked on technique and one of the coaches told me to just go light and work form due to the fact I’d been poorly, I nodded and agreed. However, once I pick up that barbell I just want to go heavy I can’t help it! 

We started with snatch, a movement I really don’t like because I find it so technical. I started to feel pretty good, we worked on a slow first phase up to the knees and then a fast final phase. I needed to focus on staying on my heels and taking my time, I tried to do this and to push my knees out and started to feel better. I slowly built up to near my 1 rep max of 62.5kg, I got up to 60kg and failed. I explained to the coach I hadn’t gotten a PB in a while in my snatch, so he said to put 63.5kg on the bar and just pick it up.

I took this on board and instead of fussing around I just went for it and I finished it! Was super happy and my confidence was given a massive boost so I decided to take the plunge and put a further 4kg on and got up to 67.5kg. First attempt and I did it and it felt so easy because I concentrated on keeping the bar close and staying on my heels.

Tips for a successful snatch

  • Keep the bar close to your body at all times
  • Stay on your heels throughout the lift 
  • Engage your lats and flat back when setting up for your lift
  • Strong shoulders

Then we moved onto squat cleans which I really enjoy, I’m still quite nervous as I had a bad injury in May this year but I’m building my confidence.

I started off at 60kg and built up to a pb at 92.5kg, this was a 2.5kg pb but I wanted more so put 95kg on the bar and did it first time. I also managed to catch it on film too! Really wanting to get that 100kg clean. 

Tips for squat clean

  • Again keep the bar close and start with your lats engaged 
  • Drive through your heels 
  • When the bar hits your hips, drop quickly to get underneath the bar
  • Once you’ve gotten underneath the bar keep your core engaged and your elbows high

Crossfit, haters gonna hate

The other day I had a conversation with my brother about crossfit and found myself becoming extremely defensive about the sport I have grown to love. Now my brother doesn’t and has never tried crossfit, he was however a junior world gymnastics champion so knows what it takes to be at the top of your sport. 

His arguement was that he was fitter than me because he can run further. My arguement was that although I hate running, I have other skills in my tool box, I can pull up, olympic lift, walk on my hands etc. Anyway the arguement escalated and ended up like most sibling exchanges do, in personal insults and a challenge. I will go for a run with him if he will do a crossfit session with me!

  
Anyway it got me thinking about when I first started crossfit and the amount of articles I read on the internet slating crossfit. I wonder how many of these people have actually tried a crossfit session before they started slagging it off?! 

Injuries- Any sport carries a risk of injury, it’s part and parcel of the activity you choose to do. I competed in trampolining for 15 years and ended up with 3 stress fractures but I’m not bitter. It provided me with so many opportunities and achievements. 

Of course anything that involves lifting weight or just being a gym will cause injury. I understand that people are concerned with the fact that crossfit coaches are not teaching the correct form, especially when it comes to Olympic lifting. Which is why it is important for people who want to begin crossfit to do their research on the box they are going to join, have a trial session, see what the coaching is like. I have to say whenever I have seen people, very rarely, get injured its when they’ve been doing their own workouts or practising by themselves in the gym. 

It’s just exercising- yes it is exercising but it is also a sport. A sport where top athletes train full time, watch what they eat, are sponsored and disciplined. It incorporates such a broad range of movements and I believe makes everyone from beginner to athlete a functional person. 

All crossfitters love to talk about crossfit- Yes this is very true! Why? Because it is a community, all of my best friends are from my crossfit box. We have social events, support one another and share common interests. But although I love crossfit I completely appreciate other sports and love to play and watch them also. 

It makes you bulky (women) – crossfit incorporates weightlifting, cardio and gymnastics and if done right it will make you lean. Will it build muscle ? Yeah! Will it make you look like a guy? No! You only have to look at the top female athletes and look at how amazing their bodies are! Not only are they full functional but they reflect a lot of hard work. 

  
You have to do paleo- Paleo is recommended and I really believe that Paleo is great. I do think however it should be adapted to the individual person, we are all human and need that odd sugar fix or the odd bottle of wine. 

Benefits I have found from crossfit 

  • Friendships
  • Community
  • A lean, functional body
  • Nutritional information
  • An outlet for my friendly competitiveness 
  • Knowledge on my body and how it moves 

I would recommend crossfit to anyone. Young, old, thin or fat I believe it really can improve health and wellbeing. 

And we do talk about other things apart from crossfit…. Promise! 

  


Training in London

This weekend I am spending time in the big city which means time away from my double daily training sessions and a little bit of a rest. 

I had today, Sunday as an active rest day and didn’t step foot in a gym. Instead we pounded the pavements and walked around the city checking out all of the sights. 

  
We also stopped off in St James park where we cought glimpses of the London- Surrey 100mile bike ride. It was a beautiful day and was nice to soak up some vitamin D.

Yesterday I needed to workout so I visited a gym located under the railway by Waterloo station. Soho gyms are a London chain of gyms with 8 gyms across the city. The gym was spacious with lots of equipment tucked away in various areas and rooms under the arches. It was quite quiet and as it was a commercial gym I decided I would have a strength focus for my session. 

My 1 rep max back squat is 135kg but as I haven’t squatted heavy since my injury I decided to squat at 80kg. I did a rep scheme of 10reps, right down to 1 rep so a total of 55reps. 

I can’t recommend back squats enough, especially for the girls! It’s a brilliant exercise for your legs and bum, in fact I believe it is the best exercise out there for your behind. In addition a good squat is crucial for many other movements, especially in crossfit, such as the clean and the snatch.

I then moved on to strict shoulder press at 40kg where I did 5×5 reps. I enjoy shoulder press and I think it builds a good basic strength in the shoulders that can be adapted to jerks and overhead movements. 

Soho gym
The squats definitely did their job because I can feel it in my quads and the top of my legs/bum today which is good. Overall the gym was great, I like the quirkiness of it being underneath the train line and the trainers were welcoming. 

If you want to visit its £13.00 for a day pass or £55 for the month. 

I wanted to check out Crossfit but unfortunately did have time, will make sure I do next time. I did however, have time to eat at nice restaurants and visit M&M world! 

   
 

Isn’t London beautiful…

  


Training, training & more training! 

As you might know I am a school teacher which means hallelujah 6 weeks off for summer! Definitely one of the perks 🙂 

I’m expecting to have quite a busy autumn season with competitions. I’m using this year to try to get as much competition experience as possible! Later in the year I’ll be competing in the Super team cup, Strength in depth, fort Ashton throwdown and hopefully Battle of the Beasts!

As I’m not working I’ve been upping my training and training twice a day which I absolutely love. If I could do that full time it would be awesome! It’s hard, I’m only a few days in and my body is sore but I seem to be recovering okay.

Today began with a rowing workout 10 x 250m to be precise. Usually the first thing I do when I wake up is to look at the workout of the day but today I didn’t and blissfully unaware I drove to the box, eating the two hard boiled eggs of managed to cook in the rush to get ready! 

Cue 30 minutes later when I’m sweating and cursing the coach, trying to keep my times below 50 seconds! I went to a very dark place! I’m not a fan of rowing at the best of times and today it made me throw up after! The combination of working hard and my late breakfast was not good but still I picked myself up and did a nice strength workout after! Then returned 3 hours later for a really good team workout that once again pushed us.

I’m loving all this training and trying out different workouts such as team and swimming etc. Hoping to see some big improvements in fitness and load over the next few weeks.

   
 
 82kg every minute on the minute