Squatting is important. We’ve asked, “If you are going to be stranded on an island what is the one exercise you would take with you?” A lot of you responded with the back squat, and I definitely think you would be hard pressed to find a better movement. The squat rewards our natural positions. It flexes and extends the knees and hips. It requires strong activation of the trunk. It asks the athlete to think about what they are doing, and it also makes you work HARD. All of these attributes make the squat one of the best answers to that silly question of being stranded on an island.
And so that is why we created the Summer of Squats five heady years ago. The summer is often a time when people think about being lean for that bathing suit. Well, high volume squats accelerate your metabolism to aid in leaning out. Summer is also a time of getting outdoors and partaking in activities and sports that require legs and hips to be explosive, enduring, strong, and mobile. Squats are great for developing all those attributes. And summer is also a time that CrossFit Ktown is as hot as the 9th ring of hell (which is actually encased in ice according to Dante). What better way to sweat than under heavy back squats?
This year’s Summer of Squats is going to be broken into three distinct cycles. The first two will each be four weeks in length and will have a heavy focus on the back squat. The last cycle will be a front squat focus and could be anywhere between four and six weeks depending on several factors best measured at some future time. We began the Summer of Squats on Monday. You are in the midst of week one; can you feel it? Let me tell you what you can expect over the next eight weeks.
This first cycle has us back squatting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We will be doing 3×10 on Monday, 5×5 on Wednesday, and 8×3 on Friday. The percentages will go up each day within the week as well as each corresponding day week to week. We will do this for three straight weeks before we take a well earned recovery week to test, among other movements, our back squat. Each day’s squats will be superset with some upper body auxiliary movements to make the very most of our precious hour.
We will also be doing some weightlifting this cycle. Tuesdays will be snatches and Thursdays will be clean and jerks with extra work on overhead strength following. Snatches will be superset with auxiliary stuff. Clean and jerks will not be. Our Function (Fx) group will of course have appropriate movements in place of snatches and CJ – most notably heavy deadlifts on Tuesdays.
My notes for the week look like this:
Monday – 3×10 squat superset with strict vertical pulling movements, interval-based lactic conditioning
Tuesday – rep max snatches/deadlifts dropping in volume increasing in intensity followed by 90% drop sets, superset with horizontal pushing movements, run-based conditioning in the mid time range
Wednesday – 5×5 squat superset with trunk strengthening movements, longer classic CF conditioning
Thursday – rep max clean and jerks/RDL dropping in volume increasing in intensity followed by 90% drop sets with jerk focus, overhead push press/split jerk work, recovery-based aerobic movement
Friday – 8×3 squat superset with horizontal pulling movements, longer aerobic grinder with UB focus
I am attempting to add more core and trunk strengthening exercises in to the programming. This will often take the shape of XTRA work in Wodify. I encourage you to do this when you have the time. I can most easily relate this to your squats by reminding you that a strong engine (your legs/hips) is useless without a transmission (your trunk) that can capture that force and apply it to your extremities. Put simply, your squat could very easily be limited by trunk strength. You might try to strengthen your legs and only see a marginal increase in your squat. But if you strengthen both your legs and trunk, you may see that rep max squat improve significantly.
This current four week cycle will be repeated in a pretty similar fashion after our back off week. We will make tweaks and already have a plan for people to reap benefits with the squat percentages. I am very excited about this year’s Summer of Squats.
Now go buy one of those Summer of Squats t-shirts!