Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Goal Down For The Year...

I really need something to do right about now. It's been three days since I broke out with the shingles and it's starting to really bother me. My pain meter often gets pegged in the 7-9 range if I so much as dare to lift a basket of laundry. I had to get unlucky enough to have the rash flare up on my left side of my body, my dominant side. I can't even crush a CoC Trainer without feeling some sort of discomfort. I'm sure this will pass, and I'll be able to get back to doing all the stuff I like doing...

...like doing my 100 rep, 1/2 BW squat set!

That was the news of the end of last week before this unholy virus decided to pop out of my nerve gaglions. I managed to make the jump from two sets of 70 & 30 up to one set of 100 with 88 lbs of sand on my back on Thursday. Just for the hell of it, I managed to do it again on Saturday. That was a good feeling for sure. I'd have to say that of the little goals that I throw up for myself to meet in training, this might have proven to be the most beneficial for me in the bigger picture.

After doing hundreds of squats per week, I feel much better acquainted with this exercise now than I ever have before. Alongside deadlifting, this might be one of the most basic, fundamental movement that the human being is capable of but in spite of the simplicity of it, there are still lots of questions.

A couple of people here and there questioned this goal, from a few perspectives. The issues of the knees, specifically the safety for them came from a couple of family members. That's not uncommon since there's always been questions about how safe the squat is for the knees. A lot of people claimed that they've hurt their knees doing squats, something that I have never experienced.

In my NON-EXPERT opinion, the sheer thought of the squat as a knee exercise is the root of the problem. Years ago, this exercise was called the deep knee bend. When I started doing this Steeve Reeve challenge, I made it a point to think of the squat as more of a hip movement that takes the knees along for the ride. I really think that this is a more accurate way to visualize how a squat is supposed to work.

Another, far more controversial question about the squat is how far down. Whenever I squatted, I did my damnest to get below parallel every, single time of those 100 squats. I tried, but that doesn't mean that I succeeded. An Ass To Grass (ATG) is a harder squat to perform since it's more distance to travel. I think that's why it's avoided by many. It's certainly the reason I would only go parallel. As long as I did the squat all the way down properly, I had no problems with pain anywhere going ATG.

I did a lot of this Steeve Reeve Challenge when I was down in Peru, under the watchful eye of my 2 year-old nephew. While he was fascinated with watching me exercise, I was equally intrigued by his squatting technique. Seriously, have you ever watched a 2 year-old squat? 9 times out of 10, IT'S PERFECT! Their feet are the right distance apart, they keep their chest and shoulders proud, and they ATG effortlessly! Watching him made me realize that squatting isn't something that we need to learn but re-learn! I think we lose the basics of this movement with our sedentary lives.

I think that's why I found this whole challenge so beneficial: I re-claimed a lot of movement lost to the chairs, sofas, and lazy-boys. Now, I find myself squatting down to pick up things far more often. My wife finds it amusing. My nephew would be proud though!

I started out doing this challenge by doing goblet squats, 5 sets of 20 reps. It turned out to be a great way to program myself to doing good quality (no-joint pain) squatting. We all know that this is the best way to teach squats, right? It's not right to forget about them once the squat meets the bar. Dan John confirmed what I figured was an awesome idea: use some triple-digit weight to goblet squat! He wrote a great article here. Should anyone feel inclined to try this challenge, I'd start with goblet squatting for sure.

Eventually, the shingles will go away and my body will return to normal. I've got my ropes back from California too. So, I can move onto climbing that cursed 3" thick rope. Patience is always a virtue, no matter if the suffering is self-induced or an act of nature. Patience is eventually rewarded.

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