Not All CrossFits Are Equal


I got the following questions from a reader of Stretching Scientifically.

> I received your book, Stretching Scientifically, and have been very excitedly

> attempting to develop side and front splits. I’ve recently begun taekwondo,

> but I come from a background of CrossFit, where I’ve been doing deep squats and

> other movements with medium and heavy weights for the past 3 years.


> When I try to do a horse-riding stance, either my heels leave the ground or my

> posterior leans back into a squat position. My question is this: Am I just not

> flexible in my lower back, or am I doing something wrong?

> (picture attached)

Answer: Take a look at your photo and at included photos of a deep squat (see below).

deep back squat Thomas Kurz

Deep back squat

deep overhead squat Thomas Kurz

Deep overhead squat

Regardless of what you say, you have not been doing deep squats in many years. Whatever you have been doing for 3 years at CrossFit, it was not deep squats. If you did a deep squat with a weight as light as half your body’s weight, you could get hurt. Follow my advice in First, Fix Faults and then, after fixing your posture, practice deep squats as shown here.

If you see that you can’t make satisfactory progress doing corrective exercises (see links from my post First, Fix Faults), find a specialist to help you (also see links from the post).

> When I try to do a horse-riding stance, either my heels leave the ground […]

> am I doing something wrong?

Answer: It is not your technique. It is a sign of a short soleus, which may be caused by not doing deep squats for many years.

> When the feet are shoulder-width apart, what is the difference between the

> horse-riding stance and a squat?

Answer: None, practically.

Comment: I guess you were not doing your squatting at the San Francisco CrossFit ( I believe that if you did, you would not have the problem you have.

Unbreakable Umbrella vs. Watermelon

10 Responses to “Not All CrossFits Are Equal”

  1. 1 FFF

    The picture are too much tiny to be fully appreciated, a higher resolution would be better.

    Also, I’m now very curious to see your typical weight training session in details! A video with a description would be great.
    From what I know, you suggest something along 2xBW deadlifts, so BSquat must be in the 1,5x area and upper. And then build hundreds of free squat to be pain free in joints. Correct? (I’m talking about training for the martial artist).

  2. FFF:

    Thanks for your comment.

    Bigger size pictures are already posted.

    The weight in lifts depends on the number of reps. At about 4-8 reps per set the 2xBW deadlift and 1-1.5BW squat are OK for MA.

  3. 3 Anthony Ricci

    I have witnessed many cross-fit (and P90X types) executing so called Squats. Reminiscent about the words of Dan John (“It’s not Squats that are bad for you….It’s what you call squats that are bad for you”) the fact is that the very nature of cross fit…high speed, go to failure, rapid movements almost guarantees crummy squat form and accompanying muscular maladjustments. Lack of ankle flexibility comes up so often when it comes to squat problems that is has become almost automatic for me to check that aspect of my trainees. Stretching the soleus muscle requires flexed knee calf stretches. Fix the calf inflexibility and the thoracic stiffness and your squat will come a long way.

  4. 4 George

    As a crossfitter who has been to numerous CrossFit affiliates on the East Coast of the United States it’s my humble opinion that the person shown in the photo is not actually a crossfitter or he has followed what he believes to be CrossFit on his own, with no training or coaching by a qualified CrossFit trainer, and no attempt to research the proper execution of a squat.

    Squatting is one of the foundational movements that is covered in great detail. I’ve never witnessed any individual at a CrossFit gym ever display such horrendous form as the individual in the photo. Quite frankly, I find the person in the photo hard to believe. There’s no way this guy crossfitted for 3 years and couldn’t manage squatting below parallel unless he has some major disability he’s not disclosing.

  5. 5 Fabián Barrera

    Have shoes something to do in weightlifting, specially the squat and good morning? I’ve just read something else that shoes with thin heel, close to barefoot are better. If that’s the case, is it better to do weighlifting barefoot?

  6. It all depends on the floor and on the amount of weight. Powerlifters and Olympic-style weightlifters wear weightlifting shoes.

  7. 7 Fabián Barrera

    By the way, it’d be great if you wrote something like this post (with actual pics and video) for other exercises like the good morning and the deadlift.

  8. 8 Brendan

    I think this is supposed to be a picture of the guy’s horse stance, not squat. If it is a squat, I agree with the critiques. It’s a poor horse stance too, though.

  9. 9 Fabian Barrera

    What would be a fair goal of weight for squats when doing 3 sets of 15 reps? Maybe 1/2 BW?

  10. For a healthy person that would be a decent start.

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