“Regardless of what the problem is, the answer is to squat.” – Greg Glassman
“People who do not know how to squat do not have normal hip function, don’t have normal leg function,” Glassman says, paying homage to the movement. “They can’t jump, run, throw or punch correctly.”
As a fundamental movement, the squat is a building block to every other movement in CrossFit, says HQ trainer Pat Sherwood. “Do this well and everything else you do will fall into place,” he explains. “Do this poorly and everything else is going to be a little challenging for you.” Every part of the body must be engaged and tight in the squat, Sherwood notes. “If you find yourself down in the bottom of the squat and you’re just kinda chillin’, you’re probably not squattin’ right,” he says.
For those feeling averse to the squat, Glassman has a simple question: “What is the preferred method for getting your ass off the toilet seat?”
The squat is essential to your well-being—it greatly improve your athleticism and keep your hips, back, and knees sound and functioning in your senior years. Not only is the squat not detrimental to the knees, it is remarkably rehabilitative of cranky, damaged, or delicate knees. In fact, if you do not squat, your knees are not healthy regardless of how free of pain or discomfort you are. This is equally true of the hips and back. The squat is no more an invention of a coach or trainer than is the hiccup or sneeze. It is a vital, natural, functional, component of your being.
The squat, in the bottom position, is nature’s intended sitting posture (chairs are not part of your biological make-up), and the rise from the bottom to the stand is the biomechanically sound method by which we stand up. There is nothing contrived or artificial about this movement. Most of the world’s inhabitants sit not on chairs but in a squat. Meals, ceremonies, conversation, gatherings, and defecation are all performed bereft of chairs or seats. Only in the industrialized world do we find the need for chairs, couches, benches and stools. This comes at a loss of functionality that contributes immensely to decrepitude.
Frequently, we encounter individuals whose doctor or chiropractor has told them not to squat. In nearly every instance this is pure ignorance on the part of the practitioner. When a doctor that doesn’t like the squat is asked, “by what method should your patient get off of the toilet?” they are at a loss for words.
In a similarly misinformed manner we have heard trainers and health care providers suggest that the knee should not be bent past 90 degrees. It’s entertaining to ask proponents of this view to sit on the ground with their legs out in front of them and then to stand without bending the legs more than 90 degrees. The truth is that getting up off the floor involves a force on at least one knee that is substantially greater than the squat.
Our presumption is that those who counsel against the squat are either just repeating nonsense they’ve heard in the media or at the gym, or in their clinical practice they’ve encountered people who’ve injured themselves squatting incorrectly. It is entirely possible to injure yourself squatting incorrectly, but it is also exceedingly easy to bring the squat to a level of safety matched by walking. (See how)
On the athletic front, the squat is the quintessential hip extension exercise, and hip extension is the foundation of all good human movement. Powerful, controlled hip extension is necessary and nearly sufficient for elite athleticism. “Necessary” in that without powerful, controlled hip extension you are not functioning anywhere near your potential. “Sufficient” in the sense that everyone we’ve met with the capacity to explosively open the hip could also run, jump, throw, and punch with impressive force.
Secondarily, but no less important, the squat is among those exercises eliciting a potent neuroendocrine response. This benefit is ample reason for an exercise’s inclusion in your regimen.
via CrossFit Journal