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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Olympic Squat 6-22-09

95 x 5
115 x 3
135 x 3
155 x 1
175 x 1
195 x 1
215 x 1
235 x 1 (PR)

I'll be doing Olympic Squats or high bar back squats for the next 10 weeks.  I know this is against the grain of what crossfit teaches.  Hopefully Jeff Martin won't rip my arms off and beat me down with them for doing so.  Afterall he first taught me how to sqaut and I owe a lot to him.  But I believe I'm making an informed decision here.  Am I doing the right thing?  I honestly don't know.  Let me break it down a bit....

In the world of crossfit, the low bar back squat is king.  You can lift heavier weight with a LB squat.  You incorporate the posterior chain by using the low back, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors with a powerful hip drive out of the bottom.  I've read as much as I can of what Rippetoe has to say on the topic including Starting Strength, his article on low bar vs high bar squats, on his forum at strengthmill and many videos.  I've learned from Jeff Martin, the fine folks on the Brand X forum, and from the crossfit journal.  

But in the world of Olympic Lifting, the high bar back squat is king.  I've talked to Greg Everett and Aimee Anaya about the subject and read Greg's article regarding the two squatting styles found on the performance menu Journal.  I've read what Glenn Pendlay has to say about the topic.  Without basically recreating or retyping Rippetoe and Everett's entire articles and going through them point by point, I guess a full and complete discussion can't really be had.  I don't quite have the inclination to do that at this point.

But what it boils down to is that in the sport of Olympic Lifting, high bar back squats are the only kind of back squats that are done.  There is a reason for this.  The strength they develop is more transferable for Olympic lifting then low bar back squats.  Rippetoe's claim that Olympic Lifters would benefit by gaining greater overall strength by low bar back squatting has yet to be proven, and the authorities within the sport disagree.  I don't pretend to be anywhere near as smart as Coach Rippetoe and I have immense respect for him.  But its hard to argue with an entire sport spread across the globe.  It could be possible that Rippetoe is right and greater lifts would be achieved if the elite lifters were low bar squatting and getting their quad strength from front squatting, but for now I'll go where the proof now seems to be.  At the Olympic Lifting seminar that I attended I found out that I am posterior chain dominant, or hamstring dominant and have fairly weak hamstrings comparably.  This is shown in that I can pull much more weight and plenty high enough then what I can handle squatting out of the bottom of a clean (Power Clean PR of 225lbs compared to Clean PR of 198lbs).  So in order to bring my Olympic Lifts up to their potential by specifically gaining stronger quads from front squatting and high bar back sqatting, I plan to fix that deficit.  

I'm not giving up low bar back squats all together.  But I'm adding in high bar squats into my repertoire as I think they are a valuable form of squatting that will address a specific weakness in my fitness armor.  The question for me really is what form of squatting will develop the best all around athlete?  Having good Olympic Lifting numbers is an important part of the equation in my opinion.  But having quality numbers with the low bar back squat is important as well.   Maybe the answer is to include each.  So I plan to wield them both to the best of my programming abilities.  

I feel as though I've only brushed the tip of the iceberg on this topic.  If anyone has any thoughts whether of dissent or approval, or questions, or whatever, please don't be shy!


metric said...

Any changes in your thoughts after working with Jeff?

JAK said...

Errrrr . . . Ummmm . . . Still computing

I aren't too smart after all.

metric said...

I've been wishing I could edit that since I posted it, it was definitely intended as a question. I read the article Josh Everett posted and took it as gospel that "that was how Olympic lifting was done", but Jeff's comments have me wondering and now the video with Natalie Woolfolk on the mainsite is contradicting some of the points I'd taken as fixed. I'm coming to the conclusion there are schools of thought in O. lifting as well as any place else.

JAK said...

No real changes to my understanding of technique on the snatch when he worked with me on it. That doesn't mean I have all the technique down though, thats for sure. Biggest thing was I wasn't pushing my shins up close to the bar so the bar path was jacked up (too far away from me).

As far as changes in my thoughts in regards to squat styles...that is a bit more involved. Basically in brief summary: I still believe that high bar back squats are the squat of choice if you are an olympic lifter. But for a crossfiter or general athlete who olympic lifts that wants the 'best' possible results? I'm not so sure. I think either method (as long as you are front squatting) will elicit some solid results.

What specifically did Natalie say that s different then what you thought was standard technique?

metric said...

Missed this one, forgot to subscribe to the comments.

She told people not to flare their knees out during the set-up and/or first pull. That's definitley not what Josh says and I thought contradicted what Coach B says. I asked the question in the comments for the video and both Josh and Coach B responded to my and BathMatt's questions there, so best to look there for a complete answer.