Sunday, August 28, 2011

Get OUT!

     Hey everyone. Back again, back to training... and back to burpees (blah!). I have a couple of rambles in me before I get back out on the road. Nothing like crap food, no sleep and covered in sweat... none of which is part of CrossFit (well maybe the sweaty part). Anyway, ramble on!

     Well folks, let's talk about a huge part of CrossFit... hell, a huge part of optimal perfomance in general. You know it, and maybe dread it: The Squat! Yes, our good friend of squat is one of the King's of Movement. You want to be faster? Squat. You want to be fitter? Squat. Do you want to be more powerful? Squat... do we see a patern here?

      Now, I'm not going to be long winded here. Most of you that perv the rambles have a pretty good idea about proper depth, tight core, and all that jazz. All I want to talk about today is the knees... and they should get out!

     Ok, so maybe I didn't find the best picture out there, but it fits with what were talking about today. To obtain the proper "below parallel" squat is defined by the hip joint dropping below the knees. One of our famous cues is: "Knees Out!". But why those pairs of words?

     Well, when we squat we USUALLY start with toes pointed roughlt 30 dgrees out and set slightly wider than our shoulders (not getting into sumo squat position). As we descend our thighs should track over our feet keeping the femur outside the ASIS or the Anterior Superior Iliac Spine, which is the "hip pointers" that you can feel right below your waist. However, if you are unfortunate enough to have your knees track inward your femur will approach your ASIS as you lower. This will trap muscle, soft tissues or even excess clothes and prevent a below-parallel squat.

     But, why do our knees track in? Well, we have about 5 different adductor muscles attached from the groin to the inner thigh. As we reach the bottom of the squat these muscles are as stretched as they will go. But, as we ascend the muscles begin to shorten, and since they attach to the inner aspect of the thigh, they pull your femur inward. This is where a strong set of adductors and the cue of "knees out" will help tremendously.

     Hey, what about your abductors? Surely those create an opposite pull against your adductors, right? Not so much. Your abdactor is a small muscle group that attches at you anterior iliac crest (part of your hip bone) to your lower leg. Try this, stand up (yes, do it now), raise on knee straight up, and then rotate it outward. That is your abductors in action. Since, we're not in the business of following a Jane Fonda Fitness VHS... well, you get the picture.

     I hope I didn't make you bored to tears and want to jam a kettlebell into your skull. This is just some things to think about when your chasing that beautiful squat. Be it a 2x bodyweight back squat, or a sound air squat. Do my a favor, post in the comments what you'd like to hear rambled about. Be it some scientific question about kinesiology, paleo options, mobilization... or just some weird crossFit, or even deployment related rambles. So stay strong, knees out... and do burpees!

"The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructos got together and said: 'If we're going to charge $10 and hour, we can't call it jumping up and down'"
     - Rita Rudner

3,2,1 GO!

Yesterday's Training:

Sumo Box Squat 205 x 3 x 5

Deadlift (Work up to heavy pull)
425 lbs

3 rounds for time:
10 dips
10 100 lb Goblet Squats
20 double unders
Time - 5:09
Could have gone sub 5, but a decided to have a whipping party on my legs on my last set of double. Oh well. I like the goblet squat... good fun!

Day 136 Burpee Challenge / 9194 Burpees Completed
It really sucked to play catch up on all of those. Oh well, not too much to go now.



  1. I've always questioned the proposition that strong adductors help keep the knees out. There's actually a whole CrossFit Journal dedicated to strengthening the adductors to improve one's ability do drive the knees out, so it's obviously 'common knowledge'. But, think about this for a second. Wouldn't strengthening the adductors lead to STRONGER adduction? Wouldn't this make it even HARDER to overcome said adduction and drive the knees out? Skelly? You here? Any thoughts?

  2. Speaking about the knees and squatting. I have some knee pain going on in the outside of my knee and I think it may be overtraining. Any experience with this?

  3. Dealing with that very same thing right now, Andrew! CFFB programming has me adding 5lbs to my squat every three days, plus lots of 50m sprints. My left knee feels like crap on the outside. Doesn't hurt when I squat, though? It bother me when I pull my knee up, like when you get out of the shower and towel off your shins. That motion hurts. Been on the Starrett stuff and working the tissues around it, but no real help, yet. Gonna take it light on the squats today.

  4. I am the same way. Never had pain when lifting except I did notice it hurt a bit when I keep my toes straight and really push my knees out on squats. My fix for that was to point my toes out a bit so that way I dont need to put as much stress on the outer knee. I have taken about a week off of squats and oly lifts to really try and get over the nagging pain.

  5. Thanks for the comments guy... or rather your two-way conversation.

    Libbie, you bring up a very interesting point about the strengthening of our adductos. The take-away from this ramble was to show that without pushing our knees out we just can't get proper depth (like I was saying about the femur traveling outside of the ASIS).

    Anyway, I want to answer your question. Like all rambles, I try to put forth educated studying about the subjects... unless I truly just ramble... so, when I return from this next trip I'd like to write about the adductors function in the squat. I'll do some good research for you and see if it helps.

    Don't let pain become injuries guys! And keep at it.