How to Improve Your Squat: 5 Simple Methods

If you’ve been wondering how to improve your squat — look no further.

“There is never an absolute answer to everything, except, of course, that you have to do your squats.” – Mark Rippetoe

how to improve your squat

Rally Point Endeavors Personal Trainer, Alex

Today, there are enough variations to have you perform a different set of squats every day for a year. However, these 5 best practices will always apply. Read on to learn how to improve your squat.

1. Learn how to sit into the squat.

You’re probably familiar with the cue to “sit back” into a squat. This cue is problematic because it causes an anterior pelvic tilt that will cause you to experience a rounding of the low back as you get deeper into a squat, commonly referred to as a butt wink. The goal should be to maintain a neutral spine throughout the entire squat. 

Practice sitting into a squat by initiating the movement at the hips, knees, and ankles simultaneously. This allows you to keep an upright torso as you lower your body straight down into the squat. Put a stool, box, or medicine ball at a height close to the bottom depth of your squat. Practice lowering to this height and stay engaged with a neutral spine. Use a video camera or grab a friend to learn at what point in the squat your low back starts to round.

2. Pay attention to those knees.

The Vagus Knee fault is a term used for a lifter’s knee’s tracking inside the foot, essentially “caving in” during a squat. This is generally due to weakness or an inability to activate the lateral hip rotators and abductors. To correct this fault, practice your squat with a mini band wrapped around your knees so you have to actively drive your knees out against the tension of the band. Another correction would be to practice tempo or pause squats that allow your body to develop more muscle memory in these positions.

Keep in mind that just because you don’t want the knees to cave inside the feet doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to drive the knees far out past your feet, either. For most individuals, the knee and thigh should stay aligned with the foot throughout the movement. By driving the knees out too far in the bottom of a squat, you will increase risk of injury as well.

3. Amplify the signal.

Learning how to breathe properly during a squat can provide a tremendous advantage to your strength and stability. Inhale fully into the stomach and chest, creating intra-abdominal pressure before initiating any heavy lift. This creates a solid wall of pressure around the internal organs, chest, and of course the spine allowing you to keep proper form under heavy loads where you may lose your position if not properly braced.

The other benefit of creating this pressure is that it amplifies the signals from your brain, telling your muscles to contract. This might just give you the little extra push you need to stand up that weight.

4. Learn how to get under the bar.

When learning how to improve your squat, our coaches will advise you to learn how to get under the bar. One of the biggest areas for rapid improvement in the squat comes from approaching it as a full body exercise. The legs are the primary drivers of the squat movement, but by activating your core and upper body properly, you will be able to generate significantly more power. 

One of the most common reasons for missing a rep in the squat is failing to keep a strong upright torso position. One way to prevent this is to step under the bar like you mean business. As you step under the weight and find the proper position across your traps, stand up powerfully under the weight. Pull the bar against your body as if you were trying to wrap it around you like a blanket. This will help you activate your lats, a key factor in staying strong throughout the movement. Finally, as you lower into the bottom of your squat squeeze the barbell as if you were trying to crush it in your hands.

5. Power through your sticking point.

At first thought you might think that the sticking point (the hardest part of the lift, slowest point of acceleration) would be in the very bottom of the squat — but that is not actually the case. The sticking point of the movement is generally encountered as you try to stand up the weight but can’t seem to push through. That’s because your body is at a point where the muscles are at their lowest possible capacity to generate force. At the bottom of the squat the muscles are fully stretched and able to generate “elastic” energy. As you start to stand, the stretch is released. The sticking point occurs because the muscles are not at an optimal stretch that generates passive energy, but they have not fully returned to a position where they are able to generate enough active tension to overcome the load.

If you find yourself hitting a sticking point in your squats you can train your muscles to become stronger at this particular range of motion. Practice pause squats where you hold in this challenging position for a few seconds. If you still find yourself struggling with the sticking point, focus on generating more speed out of the bottom of your squat. Oftentimes, this momentum can carry you through the sticking. Make sure the bar keeps moving.

Let our professionals teach you how to improve your squat!

The Rally Point Endeavors team is ready and eager to help you, whatever your needs may be. Between our personal trainers, weightlifting Barbell Club, CrossFit coaches, on-staff Chiropractor, doctor-lead mobility classes, and a loaded recovery room, we’ll have those squats looking better than ever. If you are serious about learning how to improve your squat, give us a call or shoot us a DM to get hooked up with one of our professionals today.

The Single Biggest CrossFit Myth Debunked

crossfit

The Single Biggest CrossFit Myth Debunked

I’m sure several CrossFit myths came to mind when you read the title. 

“I’ll get too bulky.”

“I’ll get injured.”

“I’ll get worse at my sport.” 

Spoiler: all of those myths are false, too, but they’re not the largest myth of the industry. 

The single largest myth that people believe before joining the CrossFit world: I won’t fit in.

As CrossFit has grown in popularity, you’ve likely seen the well-muscled men and women of the CrossFit Games and popular social media accounts. As you watch them run, jump, and hoist tremendous weights overhead you think to yourself, “I could never do that.” 

You entertain your doubts for just a moment, and imagine, ever-so-briefly, what it would be like if you were to muster up the courage to try out a CrossFit gym. It does look incredibly empowering, you think to yourself. 

Mental images of men and women with muscles on their muscles flood your mind. Despite your “better judgement,” you dial up your nearest CrossFit gym and ask if you can drop by, just to take a peek. The person on the other end of the phone sounds… friendly, and inviting. Must be a fluke.

Your first day rolls around. You give yourself a little pep talk, take a deep breath, and strut your stuff into the gym to find… that you’re surrounded by people with enough determination to put in the work. You’re surrounded by people with enough guts to try to be their best selves. To your surprise, you realize that you’re surrounded by people just like you.

This is a common scenario. One of the biggest factors keeping people from the gym is not being as fit as they want to be. What a catch-22! So, before you rule yourself out from being able to complete the Workout of the Day (or “WOD” in CrossFit lingo) let’s try to view the situation with fresh eyes.

The men and women with muscles on their muscles? They weren’t always that ripped. They had a first day, too. They were beginners once, too. They started out just like you. The hardest part is just opening the door to the gym on day one. 

Your coach will be with you every step of the way, as your educator, guide, and friend. In no time you’ll come to find you were only right about one thing… It is as empowering as it looks. 

If you’re ready, we’re ready! Reach out to us today. Let’s do this.

April Rise Challenge Recap

April Rise Challenge

Congrats to all April Rise participants on the amount of work that was accomplished during the month of April! The Rise challenge was an opportunity for people to look at their fitness in a 360 degree mentality, not just fitness but how sleep, fitness, and nutrition all interact together. Whether you knocked it out of the park and finished in the top 10 or you checked in a few times a week, you should be proud of your effort.

Looking forward were going to continue this momentum forward with a May focus on understanding the “how” and “when” elements. Simply put, we’ll help you to create a system of how and when you can implement better habits around hydration, sleep, movement and nutrition into your routine to build your ultimate re-emergence plan.

Top 10 Participants

  1. Yori Rubinson – 372 points
  2. Lana Fortel – 303 points
  3. Cliff Zimmerman – 322 points
  4. Ines Rogic – 322 points
  5. Kerry Goggin – 322 points
  6. K Joy Caneda – 320 points
  7. Sarah Barto – 312 points
  8. Mark – 310 points
  9. Mark Rasho – 309 points
  10. Jessi Zuba – 308 points

Rise Challenge Resources

Click Here to download all the handouts from the challenge.

RPE Video Archive

Looking for a past video? Check out our video archive!

May’s Programming Q&A w/ Brad

Access Here

Friday May 29th, 2020

Workout Demo

Thursday May 28th, 2020

Workout Demo

Wednesday May 27th, 2020

Workout Demo

Tuesday May 26th, 2020

Workout Demo

Monday May 25th, 2020

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Sunday May 24th, 2020

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Saturday May 23rd, 2020

Workout Demo

Friday May 22nd, 2020

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Thursday May 21st, 2020

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Wednesday May 20th, 2020

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Tuesday May 19th, 2020

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Monday May 18th, 2020

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Sunday May 17th, 2020

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Saturday May 16th, 2020

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Friday May 15th, 2020

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Thursday May 14th, 2020

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Wednesday May 13th, 2020

Workout Demo

Tuesday May 12th, 2020

Workout Demo

Monday May 11th, 2020

Workout Demo

Sunday May 10th, 2020

Workout Demo

Saturday May 9th, 2020

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Friday May 8th, 2020

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Thursday May 7th, 2020

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Wednesday May 6th, 2020

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Tuesday May 5th, 2020

Workout Demo

Monday May 4th, 2020

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Sunday May 3rd, 2020

Workout Demo

Saturday May 2nd, 2020

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Friday May 1st, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Thursday April 30th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Wednesday April 29th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Tuesday April 28th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Monday April 27th, 2020

Workout Demo

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Sunday April 26th, 2020

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Saturday April 25th, 2020

Workout Demo

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Friday April 24th, 2020

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Thursday April 23rd, 2020

Workout Demo

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Wednesday April 22nd, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Tuesday April 21st, 2020

Workout Demo

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Monday April 20th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Sunday April 19th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Saturday April 18th 2020

Workout Demo

Friday April 17th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Thursday April 16th, 2020

Workout Demo

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Wednesday April 15th, 2020

Workout Demo

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Tuesday April 14th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Monday April 13th, 2020

Workout Demo

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Sunday April 12th, 2020

Workout Demo

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Saturday April 11th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Friday April 10th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Thursday April 9th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Wednesday April 8th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Tuesday April 7th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Monday April 6th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Sunday April 5th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Saturday April 4th, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Friday April 3rd, 2o20

Workout Demo

Movement Demo

Daily Challenge

Thursday April 2nd, 2020

Workout Demo

Daily Challenge

Wednesday April 1st, 2020

Movement Demo

Workout Demo

Tuesday March 31, 2020

Movement Demo

Workout Demo

Monday March 30, 2020

Movement Demo

Workout Demo

Sunday March 29, 2020

Movement Demo

Workout Demo

Saturday March 28, 2020

Movement Demo

Workout Demo

Renew

Friday March 27, 2020

Movement Demo

Workout Demo

Renew

Thursday March 26, 2020

Movement Demo

Workout Demo

Renew 

Wednesday March 25, 2020

Movement Demo + Warm Up

Workout Demo

Renew

Tuesday March 24, 2020

Workout Demo

Monday March 23, 2020

Movement Demo

Workout Demo

Sunday March 22, 2020

Workout Demo

Saturday March 21, 2020

Workout Demo

RPE Member of the Month: Josh Lintz

Name: Joshua Lintz

Age: 37

What class do you typically attend? None. Personal training Coach Adam Baillie and “open” gym with Adam Baillie and Cody Ksioszak on Saturdays.

What do you do when you’re not crossfitting (for work): Technology and software consulting sales; investor/equity trader

How long have you been doing CrossFit? 2.5 years

Why did you start CrossFit? Funny story, actually. I joined a local meal-delivery program in May of 2017 in efforts to eat better and simplify the process of eating well without the time demands of meal prep and cooking. At the time, this local meal-delivery service delivered to hubs versus home delivery; and, in my case, the nearest hub was a CrossFit affiliate. During one of the routine order pickups, I ran into the owner of the affiliate. Long story short, we talked a bit and he sold me on a “right start” intro to CrossFit. This is where I met my coach, Adam Baillie. Adam coached the last few of these packaged intro classes, which were quasi-PT sessions. I soon started to attend group classes (daily WODs). It wasn’t long before I was hooked – the community, energy, engaging workouts, and, of course, with a shameless shout-out to Adam, great coaching. After 2-3 months of group classes I decided PT was what I needed to accelerate the learning curve.

What are your favorite movements/lifts? Why? Anything barbell is a whole new world for me. That said, right now I am really digging cleans and anything ground-to-overhead. The range of motion coupled with the skill, speed, conditioning and form required is inspiring.

What are your least favorites? Why? I don’t really have a least favorite per se. There are some lifts that I struggle with and movements I haven’t achieved yet. However, as I write this, I am dredging up bad memories of burpees and box jumps. It’s always the simple stuff that hurts the most, right?

What is your fitness goal for 2020? I have a long list of fitness goals for 2020. To list a few, I’d like to continue reducing body fat, achieve some of the movements and skills that elude me (e.g. connected double-unders), and, of course, make some big jumps in my PRs. I also have a competitive side-bet with a friend about competitive positioning on the 2021 Open Leaderboard. 

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? I used to run NCAA Division 1 cross-country and track at SMU.

How has CrossFit changed your life? I spent a long time building bad habits with diet (mainly food choices and portion control) combined with a deskbound career and a sedentary lifestyle to boot. I explored various activities as a hedge – spinning classes, swimming, jogging, joined a gym, and more – but, like many, I struggled to find something sticky. That is, until I found CrossFit. 

Why Rally Point CrossFit? I am a transplant from CrossFit E-Town thanks to Adam Baillie. Since joining in July 2019, I have come to appreciate how great the team and community is at RPE. 

The Magic Happens After 3 Months

In your free intros, our Dietician Ben likely highlighted that there is a 3 month minimum for participation in nutrition coaching. This is to take the pressure off of clients to achieve too much all at once and to truly take the time needed to start to learn healthy habits that go along with eating healthy foods. 

 

You will hear us talk about the importance of taking a long term approach to your nutrition. We recommend 3-month commitments and avoid things like fad diets that are quick fixes. So why do we offer nutrition challenges? Sometimes it is necessary to stick your toes in the water before you jump in, but there is always an offer of help at the end to continue your progress. 

 

3 months is truly just the beginning. 

 

The magic happens after 3 months. 

 

Magic – things start becoming more automatic and more effortless. Settling into a lifestyle of eating vegetables with meals, drinking more water, getting into a meal prep routine, scheduling time for exercise, choosing healthy foods over sugary or highly processed items. These things are just starting to fall into place and becoming less of a “chore” at the 3-month mark. 

 

After 3 months, after you start to build your foundation of healthy habits, is when you can start to apply these habits in different situations. Let’s face it – life is rarely static. There are days that life likes to throw different challenges and stressors your way. Sticking with nutrition coaching after the 3-month mark helps to solidify your foundation, helping you to better deal with life situations and in turn, make better food choices despite the added stress. 

 

We encourage you to not set an end date for your nutrition coaching. Think of this as an investment in keeping yourself accountable to achieving your long term goals. 

 

Where do you see yourself a year, 2 years from now? The nutrition coaching program is committed to helping you stay on track with these long term goals, helping you to be the healthiest version of yourself. 

 

It will take time to get you there. The magic starts to happen after the 3-month mark.

 

We are excited to help you get started on your journey!

 

Book your free appointment to get started today!

truLocal Meat Delivery

 

Exciting announcement!  Rally Point Endeavors has partnered with truLOCAL to help you stay on top of your customized nutrition plan. They are offering some great bonuses for our members.

What is truLOCAL? 

truLOCAL is a premium meat delivery service.  They ship the highest quality beef, chicken, pork and seafood using dry ice and 100% recyclable packaging.  Meat is sourced from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin family farms and hand-crafted by a family owned butcher-shop in Chicago.  Their seafood is wild caught and comes from a Chicagoland distributor.

All meat is shipped directly to your door:  Raw, vacuum sealed, flash frozen and individually portioned.  Their conveniently packaged products minimize meal prep time and dollars spent on takeout.  Nutritional facts for all cuts are on their website to help you hit those macros. We’re very excited about this partnership.

How does truLOCAL work? 

truLOCAL has two box sizes.  Each box has points that allow you to fully customize the contents.

  • Small Box:  $125  (9 Points, Up to 18 Portions)
  • Regular Box:  $249  (20 Points, Up to 40 Portions)

Each cut is worth a certain point value on their website. Customize your box and choose your frequency.  Zero commitments, you can pause, skip, or cancel any time.  

Tip #1 – Best Bang for Buck:  Always choose the Regular Box but opt for less frequent deliveries.

It has 10% more meat and lifetime promos.  

Tip #2 – Better Box Building:  Load up on 1 and 2 point items for greatest value.  Staple cuts like chicken breast & 14 oz steaks build more valuable boxes.

RPE Member Benefits:

Regular Sized box purchases will receive (4) FREE Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, 1lb Bacon and 1lb ground beef FOR LIFE.  Apply promo code “CFRALLY” on the checkout page. Small boxes will receive 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts.

Tip #3 – Don’t Lose Promos: Need a break?  Pause or skip future orders instead of cancelling so you don’t lose “For Life” promos.

Do your research!

We take our partnerships seriously. We’ve tried truLOCAL’s products and love them. But don’t take our word for it.  They encourage you to research their company.  truLOCAL’s existing customers are fiercely loyal.  Google reviews and Instagram have plenty to say. Compare their reviews to the competition. You’ll see why this company is changing the online meat delivery industry and why we’re so excited about this partnership.  

Visit www.trulocalusa.com to get started!

RPE Member of the Month: Max Schoettger

 

Name: Max Schoettger

Age: 25

What class do you typically attend? 5:30 CrossFit/Endure at Deerfield

What do you do when you’re not crossfitting (for work): I’m a Software Engineer at Allstate

How long have you been doing CrossFit? 5 Months

Why did you start CrossFit? I got to a point where I wanted to do a complete transformation of my physical appearance, and CrossFit was recommended as a popular physical activity by my friends.

What are your favorite movements/lifts? Why? 

My favorite lifts are upper body lifts like Bench Press and Shoulder Press because nobody is looking at your legs. My favorite metcon activity is Double Unders because they are the most challenging skill work for me and remind me that I always have room to improve in the gym.

What are your least favorites? Why? Burpees. Do I even have to explain why?

What is your fitness goal for 2019? If I keep showing up every weekday, I think placing in the Top 20 of RPE participants in the Open for 2020 is a possibility, so that’s my goal.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? I’m a World Record holder! You can come ask me how.

How has CrossFit changed your life? I feel more confident in myself as a person and the way that I look. Since joining the gym, I’ve lost 15 pounds, got a new haircut, got some clothes that fit, and started wearing contacts regularly, so I look completely different than when I started! It also required me to quit vaping and improve my diet in order to make any substantial progress.

Why Rally Point CrossFit? Doing my own workout routine wasn’t yielding the desired results. RPE not only takes the guesswork out of my training, but is moving me closer to my fitness goals. All I have to do is show up and do what they tell me. Plus, all my friends are here!

Rally Point Endeavors | Vitality Realized

Rally Point Endeavors (RPE) was conceived in the fall of 2013 and is a comprehensive lifestyle company that incorporates strength & conditioning as one approach to physical preparedness, while also teaching the importance of the mind & body connection through movement focused practices and the use of recovery principles taught in sports medicine/physical therapy.  The opportunity to achieve human Vitality is only possible by training the mind & body and then recovering both while off the training floor.  RPE’s diverse services deliver on both training and recovery and the vision of realizing Vitality for all members is achieved through expert coaching as guides.  training is typically 1 hour of a member’s day while recovery is the other 23 hours and both are equally as critical to the Vitality pursuit. 

Specific to training and recovery, our members typically participate in small groups with individualized attention and healthy lifestyle education on the training floor. In addition to coached fitness sessions, members receive guidance on topics of nutrition, recovery, work/life balance, preventative health, and striving for the mentality of Vitality.

Our Coaches have education and experience encompassing health, wellness, fitness, sport, and performance. We are constantly striving to be the best in our industry by learning, innovating and delivering.  We have the knowledge and resources to positively effect lives – this drives our motivation every single day.  We currently have (7) Level 2 CrossFit trainers and an additional (6) Level 1 CrossFit trainers with over 100 additional certifications combined. 

We train people from all walks of life, from the person who only gets exercise on the walk to the mailbox, to the high-level competitive athlete.  We rally around each other’s goals, accomplishments and work ethic.  To be an athlete at RPE means giving your best and knowing you have a support system every rep of the way.  We train and recover athletes as young as 5 years old in our Rally Point Kids program, through the competitive teenage years with Rally Point Prep Performance, and all the way from early adulthood to the senior years in our Rally Point Endure and Rally Point CrossFit offerings.  All of these training offerings are overlaid with the recovery component that includes everything off the training floor to ensure our members are getting the most of their training session.  Our process paves the road to Vitality!           

The tools of our trade come from various disciplines within the health and wellness continuum with a focus on functional fitness. We utilize body weight exercises to build body awareness and control (gymnastics), various weights to build strength and power (weightlifting) classic cardio and sports conditioning to build stamina and endurance (metabolic conditioning). The designed outcomes of our programming is to be the best version of yourself and live the everyday life you desire. 

3 Considerations During the “Long Haul”

Many of us are focusing on taking a long-term approach to our health and fitness, as well as working on sustainable healthy habit formation. Awesome. Way to go!!

 

When it comes to staying focused on the goal of taking a long-term approach to your nutrition, here are 3 thoughts to munch on:

 

  1. Inner Monologue:  This is a great time to take an honest look at yourself and your inner monologue.  Your inner thoughts affect your outward attitude and your actions. How you feel about different situations may impact how you react to different situations and as a result, impact your nutrition choices. Take a moment to reflect on your inner thoughts and how this may impact your nutrition. When you get stressed, what foods do you turn to for comfort? Gain some awareness of how you react to stressors and how this stress impacts your nutrition.  

 

Take this a step further. If you do turn to unfavorable foods for comfort, is there an alternative behavior that is healthier that you can engage in at an earlier point, before resorting to the foods? 

 

  1. Focus:  What are you focused on right now? What are your short and long term goals that you are shooting for?  Are you looking ahead to areas of your week that may be busy and making plans to stay on track with nutrition rather than resorting to convenience foods? What’s your ultimate long term goal and what are things you can do today, this week, this month to accomplish that goal? What are other behaviors that you can engage in (examples: sleep, exercise, meditation) to better your chances at staying on track with making healthy food choices? 

 

  1. Reflection and Evaluation: Reflect on the past few months. Do a self evaluation. Since the start of your journey, how have you improved? What are your bright spots when it comes to improved eating habits? Give yourself credit for the things you are doing well. 

 

What are some areas you have yet to improve and want to work on? Get ready to crush these action steps and show improvement on these, while staying consistent with the behaviors that are starting to become routine.  

 

Challenging your inner monologue, staying focused, reflecting and self evaluation will help us stay committed to working on our health and wellness goals, and will help you get through the “Long Haul” of this part of the year.  

 

With commitment to these aRally reas, you will be an improved version of yourself with feelings of confidence for the long term.

 

Be well! 

Ben Johnson | Dietician | Rally Point Nutrition