According to one study, most elite CrossFit athletes fall within the national average height for Westerners — 5’5” for women and about 5’9” for men. One of the most common complaints for athletes that fall on the taller side has to do with squatting. CrossFit athletes taller than 5’9” struggle to squat deep and still stand at shoulder width. They may feel too tall because of their long femurs. The same complaint holds true for those who say they have tight ankles or limited mobility.
It’s Different for Everyone
People are built differently and those who are taller than average may never squat at shoulder width. It’s just not possible biomechanically. Mobility WODs may assist those who have tight ankles, but Rich Froning Jr. and Jake Lockert of CrossFit Mayhem have another solution.
Rich won the title of the Fittest Man in the World four years in a row and stands at 5’9”, hitting the sweet spot for elite CrossFit athletes. Jake is taller at 6’2”. Together, they found a mobility exercise that helps improve mobility in the ankles, knees, and hips.
What You Can Do
Place a wall ball on the floor. Put it about about a foot away from the wall. You can stabilize this by placing it in between two weight plates laid flat on the floor.
Face the wall. Stand above or slightly in front of the ball. The goal here is to squat down to the ball, so make sure you are positioned accordingly.
Put your arms up. Cross one palm over the back of your other hand, arms above your head. Keep them away from the wall.
Squat down. Lower yourself to the ball, holding that position. As you do this while also making sure that your hands do not touch the wall, you will be forced to keep your chest up. This will help you maintain proper posture and form.
To add depth to your squat, move the wall ball closer to the wall and repeat the motion. Again, make sure your hands do not touch the wall.
If necessary, lock your knees out and stand as far apart as necessary. As you go down, do it slowly. Try not to sit on the ball. Remember that you should be squatting.
You can use this exercise for your clients or for yourself. Sometimes, this is all a matter of kinesthetic awareness or what most people know as muscle memory. It also refers to how accurately we can judge or estimate our movements, how conscious we are of how we move.
If you want to challenge yourself further, you can adjust the height of the ball although this is not necessary. The goal when doing a squat is to at least go below parallel.
Don’t be afraid to make yourself or your client work. A good squat is one of the core skills every CrossFit athlete must learn. Repeat this as necessary until you perfect your form.
Main image: Rich Froning/Facebook