Weightlifting

How to progress in your squats without pain

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The squat is a common assessment tool that many coaches will use even before designing a training program for you. It is also one of the most popular exercises in your programming, whether it is for strength, weight loss or rehab from injuries.

Squatting is one of our primal movement patterns that makes up all the activities that we do everyday. If done correctly, squats can actually help to reduce knee pain, build lower body strength, and improve sporting performance. (Bonus – incorporating squats into your workouts also build those strong shapely glutes that nicely fill out a pair of fitted jeans.)

Despite having done it since we are toddlers and its many benefits, a lot of us still have difficulty performing it correctly, without causing knee pain or lower back discomfort. We often see people avoiding this exercise, claiming that it “causes knee pain”, but many times this is actually due to performing the exercise incorrectly.

Squats do not cause knee pain; squats performed incorrectly cause knee pain.

The key to a pain-free and effective squat is to load the hips first and not the knees, but this is sometimes easier said than done! Which is why we have come up with these squat progressions to help you build up to a strong and correctly executed squat. 

What gets loaded first gets loaded maximally.

*** Basic Squat Technique - Start with feet at shoulders-width apart, look ahead, maintain a neutral spine, and sit back into the squat. Keep you core braced and drive your knees out and maintain good toe, knee, and hip alignment.


Squat Progression – 5 Exercise Variations

To squat effectively, we need a good ankle and hip mobility, as well as the ability to keep our body stable through these joints as we progress to a loaded squat. Here are some simple ways to progress your squat effectively:
 

1. TRX Squat

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This allows you to sit back in the squat as it maintains your upper body and is a great way to build your squat depth and confidence.


2. Banded Squat 

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This is very similar to the TRX squat. But as the resistance band is stretchable, it is less stable and not as ‘fixed’ as the TRX, requiring you to control the movement and stability of your body slightly more than the TRX.


3. Box squat 

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We now need to maintain our torso position, but the box reduces our range of movement and helps us to shift our weight backwards. This is a great way to help build correct knee position and a safe squat depth.


4. Box squat with medicine ball press

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As your core gets stronger, you can switch to a lower box that allows you to squat deeper. We now introduce a counterbalance by pressing the ball in front as we shift the hips back. This a great way to maintain stability and an upright torso position as we squat through a greater range of motion.

5. Goblet Squat

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This exercise is many coaches’ staple, as the position of the dumbbell or Kettlebell helps maintain core stability and a better center of gravity, which actually makes it feel easier than a bodyweight squat!

Once you are comfortable performing the goblet squat, you can increase the load or progress to a front rack Kettlebell squat, barbell front squat, or barbell back squat.

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Our advice would always be to find a qualified coach to assess your movement, mobility, and squat technique so that they can correctly advise on the progressions that you need. But in the meantime, you can give the above 5 squat variations a try!


About the author

Leigh Withers is a Personal Training Manager at UFIT. Since making a career change from financial accounting 11 years ago, Leigh has lived his passion for the fitness industry in the UK, Middle East, Asia and Europe. He’s worked with some of UK’s leading fitness educators, such as Discovery Learning, Fitness Wales, Train Fitness, along with Cardiff Met University.

During his time in the Middle East,  Leigh was part of a ground-breaking project to deliver industry-accredited training qualifications to leading gyms in the UAE.  He played a key role with the Bahrain Military Defence Hospital to provide training and education to their physiotherapists who were leading the country's first Centre of Excellence Obesity Project. He also worked with Bapco and the country’s leading dietician to front Bahrain’s ‘Biggest Loser’ campaign, and presented to hundreds of employees.

Leigh has spent time training with some of the leading figures in the industry, and has recently completed his Certified Physical Preparation Specialist Certification (CPPS) with Joe De Franco and Jim Smith at the Onnit Academy in Austin, Texas.

17 UFIT highlights of 2017

And just like that, 2017 is done! We're excited about what the new year will bring - but just before moving on, can't help but reflect on what an amazing year 2017 has been.

There have been so many highlights and exciting developments over 2017 - far too many to mention - and here we've chosen just 17. 

We thank our wonderful community of clients, partners and friends for your amazing support and congratulations to all of you on reaching your personal goals and milestones over the year. We have loved working with you and are really excited about getting you Fitter, Leaner Stronger next year.  Stay tuned as we continue to pop up in exciting new places in SG and beyond!

Opening of UFIT Orchard gym, with UFIT's 50 staff

Opening of UFIT Orchard gym, with UFIT's 50 staff

Team UFIT dominates team events  

Team UFIT dominates team events  

Fitness Fest mass workout for 1,000s

Fitness Fest mass workout for 1,000s

England rugby pro Dan Norton coaches UFIT kids

England rugby pro Dan Norton coaches UFIT kids

Launch of UFIT Performance in Hong Kong and Vegas

Launch of UFIT Performance in Hong Kong and Vegas

The expansion of Bootcamps team WeFit

The expansion of Bootcamps team WeFit

UFIT  heavyweights at mass staff workout

UFIT  heavyweights at mass staff workout

Singapore's Fittest CrossFit PT Couple at UFIT

Singapore's Fittest CrossFit PT Couple at UFIT

UFIT appointed in-house LinkedIn gym provider

UFIT appointed in-house LinkedIn gym provider

Continuation of UFIT staff professional development

Continuation of UFIT staff professional development

Amazing personal milestones reached

Amazing personal milestones reached

Launch of Personal Training @ UFIT Tanjong Pagar 

Launch of Personal Training @ UFIT Tanjong Pagar 

UFIT Bootcamps wins Best Outdoor Class award

UFIT Bootcamps wins Best Outdoor Class award

UFIT Clinic awarded Asia's Best Rehab Facility award

UFIT Clinic awarded Asia's Best Rehab Facility award

UFIT Clinic opens 2nd branch at one-north

UFIT Clinic opens 2nd branch at one-north

UFIT Retreats welcome guys at Phuket Retreat

UFIT Retreats welcome guys at Phuket Retreat

And Mok and Maire our physios win half marathons 

And Mok and Maire our physios win half marathons 

And that's a wrap for 2017 -  now with nearly 100 staff.

And that's a wrap for 2017 -  now with nearly 100 staff.

Introducing the new UFIT Tanjong Pagar PT studio

Our brand new Personal Training studio on the mezzanine level of our CrossFit Tanjong Pagar gym is open for business! This private oasis in the middle of the CBD allows clients to feel part of the welcoming, vibrant CrossFit community downstairs, yet provides a quieter, dedicated area to focus in and smash their goals with their Personal Trainer.

Our coaches are highly respected trainers and athletes, with enormous passion and experience in personal training, weightlifting and CrossFit. They also have many hidden talents and secrets up their sleeve. Find out more about them right here ...

Dylan Goddard

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"I’ve always been highly competitive at every sport I've been involved in. From the age of 10, I represented my province in South Africa in squash, athletics and rugby. I turned to competitive bodybuilding when I left school, competing at a provincial level for four years, and also got involved in Mixed Martial Arts.

Soon after I discovered mountain biking and rode and raced for two solid years. It’s a tough sport that really challenges the mind, body and soul. I ended up racing bikes when I moved to Singapore six years ago and then took up the discipline of CrossFit. 

I’ve competed in CrossFit for three to four years, achieving some significant milestones including perfect scores at the Sin City Invitationals 2016, winning 2015’s “Fittest Male in Singapore” (by CrossFit HQ, USA), third place in the 2016 "Fittest in Singapore" and have been a Reebok ambassador since 2014. I now carry a Crossfit Weightlifting Certification and a CrossFit Level 2 certification.".  Read more about Dyl here.

Nazharia Schifra Lomboan (Naz)

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Naz hails from Jakarta and later went to school in Singapore. "I was athletic and competitive ever since I was little. I grew up with an older brother so liked what he liked, and my dad was super competitive which rubbed off on me. PE was my favourite class at school, and I did track, swimming, footy, basketball and martial arts. 

At the same time I did musical theatre in Singapore and Jakarta, performing every year since I was 12, including as lead female in Footloose and in Grease as Rizzo. I also performed at The Esplanade with my band as a guitarist and back-up singer. I wanted to study performing arts but my dad sent me to business school in the UK - but then I decided to pursue my real passion which was fitness and weightlifting which led me into CrossFit".

Naz went on to become a regular CrossFit competitor and won 2017 "Fittest Female in Singapore" at the CrossFit Opens. She remains an active CrossFitter and is also now pursuing her love of weightlifting. Read more about Naz here.

John Cheah

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"I started doing theatre for my A Levels in Singapore and taught myself to play guitar, drums, bass and percussion. My thesis was on percussion in Native American Theatre and after graduating, I got a role in a theatre company for a work doing contemporary dance. I started more dancing, and combined playing music in bands, physical theatre and dance.

In 2013 I performed at the Prague Dance Festival in the Czech Republic. I had a lead role and won the Dance Theatre, Folk Dance and Participant's Choice categories. We came back in 2014 and I won first place in Dance Theatre and Participant's Choice.

Around then I was exploring CrossFit and weightlifting. I was the head coach of another box in Singapore and competing quite around SE Asia. Dylan, Daryl and I were friends and rivals, often on the podium together, and when Dyl opened CFTP, it made sense for to come over.

I was accepting less theatre and dance work in 2016, and whilst doing my last dance gig I met Adelene Stanley, my dance partner, and we started going out soon after the concert ended. We're getting married in December this year :) I've stopped CrossFit now and am pursing goals weightlifting. Along this journey, I hold all the weightlifting national records in the under-85kg and under-94kg categories. Read more about John here

Melanie Lim

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Melanie moved to Singapore from KL on an ASEAN scholarship when she was 14 years old. She went on an exchange program in Oregon when she was 21 to do sports marketing and digital arts.

She was training actively on the side and injured her lower back L4/L5, and met a physiotherapist who was a CrossFit trainer and began rehabbing using CrossFit methodology.

She moved back to Singapore at the age of 22, and interned at CrossFit Fire City for 8 months and now carries a CrossFit Weightlifting Certification and CrossFit Level 2 certification, accumulating over 200 hours of coaching in various landscapes in Asia.

When she's not training clients, herself or doing competitions Mel is an extremely talented photographer and many clients will have seen her behind the lens shooting fabulous photos of all the action for UFIT and CrossFit Tanjong Pagar.  Read more about Mel here.

Adam Ransley (BLUEY)

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Bluey has had a lifelong passion for sport, having played and coached competitive Rugby League in Sydney from a young age. He has always participated in many team sports and active events as possible - from Australian Surf Life Saving to Adventure Racing, Downhill Mountain bike riding and most recently CrossFit.

Taking his love for sport to forging a new career in the fitness industry was a natural progression for Adam. He completed his Australian Certificate III in Personal Training, and CrossFit Level 1 course to enable him to develop the same passion for fitness and training in others.

Adam believes in a balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle, which includes functional training and smart nutrition to achieve goals. He prides himself on being committed to helping others in their fitness journey as he continues to grow his. Read more about Bluey here.

FARREEZ ROSNAN

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Farreez started his career as a Personal Trainer in 2011. His passion previously as a sportsperson was as a rugby player since the age of 11 and till now, has always loved the sport. He was fortunate enough to represent Singapore in rugby at the ages of 12, 15 and 16.

His specialities with clients would be able to make them feel comfortable when they are training, improve technique and understanding of their training so they know how to use the equipment properly. Read more about Farreez here.

 
 

Come and train at our new studio at Tanjong Pagar and enjoy our special offer of 5 personal training sessions for $399, whether you are new to working out, have specific areas of the body you want to focus on, have personal goals or want to make a complete transformation.

Our coaches work with clients from all walks of life and of all fitness levels, and there is nothing that satisfies them more than helping people reach their goals.

What's to love about CrossFit?

We've all heard of people who try CrossFit and before they know it they're hooked! Dylan Goddard, Head of CrossFit Tanjong Pagar tells us why CrossFit is so popular and worth including in your training regime.

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit is constantly varied functional exercises performed at high intensity - and based on the best functional aspects of weightlifting, running, gymnastics, rowing and more.

In CrossFit you move larger loads over longer distances, so you maximize work done over short periods of time. Intensity is essential for results, and the more you do in less time, or the higher the power output, the more intense the effort.

And with a constantly varied approach to training, these movements at this intensity lead to dramatic fitness gains.

But the most unique thing about CrossFit is you don't do it alone - it's the community that makes it a shining star in the fitness world.

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What's so special about CrossFit?

  • You train alongside strangers who eventually become "family"!
  • The community is a lot bigger than the “Box" you train at, there's an international CrossFit community that is felt worldwide
  • Every class is coached by a qualified coach and classes usually limited to 10-15 people which instills high quality coaching
  • The training program is well thought-out to improve your overall strength and conditioning 
  • There's no judgment, we really strive to advocate the mantra "everyone started at the bottom!"
  • Results will be seen as early as 4 to 6 weeks if the program is followed and nutrition is in check 
  • The scaleability of all CrossFit movements makes it very accessible to everyone 
  • You will have the opportunity to learn skills that will enhance your life inside and outside the gym
  • All are welcome! We've had many people join out CrossFit classes who have never even exercised in their lives before.
  • Every WOD (workout of the day) is different, this allows for constant varied exercises and workouts.

The KEY workouts

Fundamentals: Before you start you do a Fundamentals course to teach you how to do the exercises safely and effectively.

WOD: The “Workout of the Day” is what you perform on a given day. Many follow standard CrossFit WODs, and also do their own programming.

Metcon: "Metabolic conditioning,” trains stamina, endurance and conditioning. Unlike WODs — which can also include purely strength or skill-based workouts— metcons generally include timed components performed at high intensity.

Hero WODs: Named after military servicemen who have died in the line of duty, these provide an extra challenge and reminder of their sacrifice.

Murph: one the toughest WODs, this consists of a one-mile run followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 bodyweight squats. 

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THE BASICS

AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible over a specific time period. Often lasting 10, 20, or 30 minutes (though it feels a lot longer) AMRAP workouts challenge you to finish as many rounds as you can in the allotted time. Just don't lose count…

Ass to Grass: Get low! Also called “Ass to Ankles,” this is a full-depth squat. 

For Time: Lets you see how you stack up with the rest of the CrossFit world by measuring the time it takes to complete a prescribed workout. 

CrossFit Games: Each summer the CrossFit Games test participants with physical challenges and workouts, ranging from swimming and running to pull-ups and handstand walks. Participants accrue points and the male and female winners are crowned World’s Fittest Man & Woman.

Earlier this year our very own Nazaria Schifra and Stuart Diplock were awarded those titles.

CrossFit Open: Allows competitors to register online and compete on their own or at local CrossFit boxes.

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SOME OF The Movements

Many of these movements are classic exercises you would do in Bootcamps and with your Personal Trainer. However the extra layer that CrossFit adds is the intensity and timed non-stop duration or by the amount of power you put in. 

  • Band assisted pull-up 
  • Bodyweight/Air Squat
  • Box Jump
  • Burpees
  • Double Unders - when a rope passes under your feet twice and you jump only once
  • GHD Sit-Up - sitting face-up on a Glute-Ham Developer reach back until your hands graze the ground, then explosively extend legs and sit up
  • Handstand Push-Up - you can kick up to a wall for stability 
  • Kipping pull-up - when you swing from a bar with rhythm
  • Knees to elbows - when you hang from a pull-up bar
  • Muscle Up -  hang from gymnastic rings and explosively pull your chest above the rings
  • Pistol / single leg squats - which require half the legs, but twice the effort
  • Ring Dip - just like a conventional bodyweight dip, only on gymnastic rings
  • Rope Climb
  • Snatch - explosively lift a weighted barbell from the ground to overhead in one movement
  • Sumo Deadlift High Pull - take a wide stance over a barbell  and explosively pull from the ground upward until the bar comes up to shoulder height
  • Thruster - a front squat straight into a push press
  • Walking lunges - using bodyweight. barbell on the shoulders or weight plate held overhead
  • Wallball throws.
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Come and join us at CrossFit Tanjong Pagar to find out what makes it so special for yourself.

 

NEW PERSONAL TRAINING GYM OPENING at CrossFit Tanjong Pagar!!

We are opening a brand new Personal Training gym in the mezzanine level where you can train with our coaches who have great passion and skill for lifting, CrossFit and strength training.

OPENING LATE SEPTEMBER!!

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THE MAGIC OF STRENGTH TRAINING

Regardless of the type of exercise you do, including strength training in the mix is super-important. Apart from making you stronger and adding definition to your muscles for a more toned and fit-looking body, it offers so much more:

  1. Burns alot of calories
  2. Revs up your metabolism
  3. Helps with disease prevention
  4. Protects your bone health and muscle mass 
  5. Improves your balance and coordination, posture and flexibility 
  6. Elevates your endorphins, boosts energy levels and improves your mood
  7. Strengthens your bones and muscles to improve your mobility and prevent injury
  8. Helps with your performance at bootcamps, running and other activities like skiing
  9. For competitive athletes it cross-trains the body and helps you race longer and more comfortably.

Some strength training targets your core muscles which underpin everything you do, whilst others focus on very specific muscles of the body. It's been said that the three pillars of great fitness are strength, endurance and mobility, and when you combine your strength work with activities like running, cycling, bootcamps and yoga you've got all you need to be in fantastic health and shape right there.

We figured a great person to give their perspective on strength training would be CrossFit athlete, coach and Personal Trainer Adam Ransley at UFIT Tanjong Pagar. For a CrossFit athlete, correct form and effective training with weights and strength work is essential to be successful in the game. 

Here Adam demonstrates six of his classic strength moves that can be done whether you're a bootcamper who is new to using weights, a regular lifter or a CrossFit athlete. 

Remember that with strength training your muscles need time to recover, and you should warm up and cool down after training. And importantly, get some personalised advice on the type of weights and number of repetitions to make the best and safest progress.

 

ADAM's six CLASSIC strength training moves

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1. The Power Clean - 

Olympic weightlifting is a fantastic way to develop explosive strength, muscle mass and power. Viewed as a shoulder workout the clean also builds muscle development in the legs, lats and overall posterior chain.

2. Front squats

work several major muscle groups whilst enhancing your core strength and improving flexibility. Muscle building and strengthening the lower body is the key benefit of a barbell front squat.

3. Sumo deadlift highpulls 

help you develop power in the posterior chain, strengthening the hamstrings, glutes, lower back and upper back. 

4. Sandbag carries

are a full body exercise and highly functional for everyday use. Sandbag carries restore performance in a basic skill of daily living whilst enhancing strength, core stability and work capacity.

5. Prowler sprints - s

hort duration, high intensity prowler sprints in intervals improves your anaerobic capacity whist building power and explosive strength in your legs.

6. Weighted bear crawls  engage the entire body, strengthening hips and core muscles. Bear crawls help connect the lower and upper body whilst increasing overall power. Adam is nailing it here with 220kg, though this weight is not for everyone and we recommend your trainer helps you choose the right weight for you!

Because everyone is different, a UFIT personal trainer can work out the most effective and safe strength training program for you - based on your goals and strength capabilities - and the best way for that to fit into your current fitness routine and lifestyle.  

CrossFit Tanjong Pagar are running their August Assault strength challenge on 26 August if you fancy trying some of these movements and more with the awesome community there. All are invited, there are plenty of prizes to be won and lots of fun to have - just click here to let us know you're coming.

If you're new to strength training with UFIT, come and do a free trial in any of our five gyms at CrossFit Tanjong Pagar - or at Amoy Street, Orchard Road, one-north or outdoors at Bukit Timah.