Last week I spoke about teaching myself how to squat all over again leading up to the HKC (Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification) Damn you Squats….I love you really!! Part one. Part two is about training up for the RKC, developing a solid squat, and learning to love them.
Now it was time for the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Certification). For the HKC I just had to do 5 Goblet Squats with 12kg Kettlebell. For the RKC the requirements were 5 front squats using two 16kg Kettlebells. It was a big jump for me and I had five months to get it sorted.
Following Andrew Reads Dragon Door Australia programs was fantastic and it got me well and truly ready for the RKC but there is 3420km distance between us. I sent Andrew videos, he gave me feedback but perfecting these damn squats I was on my own. It was challenging, frustrating, annoying and my hate for them was stronger than ever.
Getting closer to the event something incredible happened – I learnt how to engage my glutes and then I learnt how to engage my abs.
I had a light bulb moment – my squats suddenly started to get easier! No more stripper moves!! I was moving in and out of the position a lot smoother, I felt more balanced. I was starting to enjoy doing squats!!
After successfully completing the RKC and being told that I had a great looking squat. I still felt I had room for improvement, which I continue to work on today.
When I got back from the US I took some time off training, evaluated what I wanted to do next and set my new goals. These goals are to increase my strength, to train up for the Iron Maiden challenge and RKCII.
Andrew wrote me a new strength program to help me towards my goals and it has barbell squats in it. Part one of this blog describes my woeful attempt at barbell squats a few years ago, so I was a little scared/excited to give them another crack.
I tentatively walked up to the bar, I started with 40kg to get the feel for them, I placed the bar across my shoulders/upper back, I stepped back and pushed out a few reps…they felt awesome! I was getting wonderful depth, I felt balanced and in control. I put the weight up to 50kg and finished my sets. Each week I kept increasing the weights 55kg, 57.5kg, 60kg. 60kg is very challenging for me. I would like to get up to 65kg or even 70kg, which would be very cool.
I have come a long way since my early days. No one had a magic wand to wave above me, there were no shortcuts taken; it was simply hard work and determination that got me to where I am today. Being the perfectionist that I am I will always find ways to improve my skills, I’m still reading everything that I can get my hands on. The knowledge that I gained throughout the progress I now pass onto my clients, I know exactly what they are going through and can sincerely encourage them on.
To take home:
- To get better at squats you need to learn and understand the movement.
- Teach yourself bodyweight squats first – do many sets but at low repetitions, if you keep the reps low you will stay focused on the technique and your mind won’t wander.
- You don’t want to do heaps all at once because you always want to maintain good technique. There is no point practising bad technique because all it will teach you at the end of the day is bad technique.
- Work on your flexibility, being flexible will help a great deal with the movement – stretch your hips, glutes, thighs, hamstrings, upper and lower back, and chest.
- If you have poor mobility issues in your ankle and hips work on improving it.
- Squats are a grind exercise, which means it should be performed slow and controlled. If you perform the exercise fast, you will not be engaging the muscles correctly.
- Once you have mastered body weight squats, start doing Goblet Squats, full description of them is in part one of this blog.
- Get an RKC instructor to help you and video yourself so you can see what you look like while doing them.
- Last thing – practice, practice, practice, constantly visualize the movement through your mind and don’t give up. As painful as squats can be you will eventually perfect it and all your hard work will be worth it in the end, you may even learn to love them like me.