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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 04-27-2008, 03:47 AM   #1
Kirez Reynolds
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OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

Why use med balls while doing squats?
(I posted this to the comments page / main page, but thought it would get a better answer here...)

I was doing this for a while, and these were my reasons:
1. I saw my mentors / idols doing it in videos and photos from CrossFit
2. I wanted to make sure I went low enough on my squats
3. (2a) I just wanted an efficient measure for my squat depth -- I didn't want to squander energy-time going too low


Then I read Starting Strength (er, I've finished about 70% of it...) He never mentions squatting to something like a med ball; so no, Rip doesn't directly countermand it. BUT ---

1. the elastic response of the hamstrings at the bottom of the squat IS important to optimal performance of the squat
2. depth - this is not explicit. I may be extrapolating here, but -- BELOW parallel is important for the proper function of the hamstrings, of course, but how far below is NOT a major issue; too low would be bad, of course, but different people have different flexibility. There is nothing WRONG with going deeper if you hit the elastic response point at a slightly deeper depth than just exactly below parallel.

On balance, I think hitting the proper elastic response of the hamstrings is more important than saving yourself that half-inch of work by stopping at a point which is just exactly below parallel.

Now, safety point. You should be prepared to bail out of OHS. I did this last week, and my wife said, "Hey. If you had been squatting to a med ball, I don't think you would have gotten out of the way of it."

Are you sure you can safely dump the weight while OHS to a med ball?

Performance point -- I hate to mention names or even point in a direction, but I think in the video of Greg and Annie doing Fran, Annie is not getting to full depth (she has short legs) on her squat thrusters. That's just an example that comes to mind, I'm sure there are others. Or maybe I'm wrong.

Performance point -- what exactly are your muscles doing when you're hitting that med ball then rebounding? I'm asking; I'm not assuming it's counterproductive, but that's what I suspect.

Performance point -- skill / kinesthetic training -- you should know the feel of proper depth via the muscles. You should hit it every time based upon that learned perception. (technically, proprioception.)

You want squat skill? Ditch the training wheels. Learn the motion and the feel, and do it without crutches. We could hypothesize a simple laser pointer adjusted to a height which, when the light beam is broken, triggers a "hit" indicating you went to full depth. But this complexity gets absurd. No need to go down the road of replacing skill with machines AGAIN, as Arthur Jones did at the outset of dumbing-down fitness for the McGyms. The med ball or any other external metric is the same thing.

My position is clear. Ditch the med ball training wheels.

What am I NOT understanding? Can you answer me on safety (possibly, yes), and on the performance points, learning the correct motion as part of your skill / ability, and on the physiological points of proper function of the muscles when squatting to full depth?
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:26 AM   #2
Brandon Oto
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

I've made similar noises. Most affiliates replied that they don't actually use the things all the time.
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Old 04-27-2008, 10:52 AM   #3
Doug Holland
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

No Balls.

Learn to feel the weight and depth. Its why we don't wear gloves either.


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Old 04-27-2008, 11:04 AM   #4
Jay Cohen
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

What Doug said.
Rip feels the same as to devices or aids for depth, mirrors, gloves, other bull ****.
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Old 04-27-2008, 01:04 PM   #5
Leslie Powell
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

I use a 12" marker because at around 10.5" off the ground I get a sudden horrible pain in my right knee where the meniscus is torn, and no matter how hard I try I can't seem to reliably discriminate the line of demarcation between "below parallel" and "ouch." Have never had any trouble bailing out of an OH squat, FWIW.
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Old 04-28-2008, 09:48 AM   #6
Jason M Struck
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

box squatting greatly improved my technique.

for purposes of measurement, the dynamax provides a consistent depth that most non-masters won't achieve without external markers.

how many of us or our clients are completely at a stage of automaticity and perfection?
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Old 04-28-2008, 10:11 AM   #7
Neil Bauersfeld
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

When I feel like I have to have a marker under my butt to ensure depth, I use a flimsy cardboard box, like a shoe box. Since it will basically fold under any kind of pressure, I have no inclination to try to sit on it, I can bump it out of the way without effort, and in the event of dumping weight it gets crushed, instead of redirecting a falling/bouncing barbell.
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Old 04-28-2008, 11:28 AM   #8
Randy Tarasevich
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

We use them to gauge initial squat depth on newbs and repeat offenders, or if we're having a really hard time gauging depth that day for the first couple of reps. Interesting observations..
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Old 04-28-2008, 11:44 AM   #9
Brandon Oto
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

One thing I would DEFINITELY not recommend is using a solid box as a marker for high-weight OHS, or for back squats without a cage. If you have to move backwards to bail, tripping over a box would be VERY bad, and if you dump the bar backwards (on a back squat), I don't want to know what would happen if it landed on the box.

For these, ball maybe, box no way. Best of all just get someone to watch to make sure you break parallel on that max attempt.
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Old 04-28-2008, 01:15 PM   #10
Lisbeth Darsh
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Re: OHS - is that med ball a good idea?

Kirez --your points are valid. If you want to see the thread to which Brandon refers: http://www.board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=28981
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