2019 Squat Challenge Recap

On Saturday, September 14th, we hosted our first squats and tacos challenge! The premise was simple: weigh yourself, load up a percentage of your bodyweight on the bar (50% for an intermediate challenge, 100% for RX), and squat it for as many times as you can for 5 minutes. The idea behind this challenge was quite intuitive, because no matter which discipline in which you found yourself here at CrossFit6S, whether that’s CrossFit, Powerlifting, or Olympic Weightlifting, the barbell back squat is a foundational movement for which all athletes have a degree of proficiency.
So the question became: how do we facilitate a challenge that will bring all three groups together under one banner? Generally speaking, Powerlifters and Weightlifters work at high percentages for lower reps, while CrossFitters would work at higher volumes and lighter weights for metabolic conditioning. By loading one’s bodyweight (or a ratio of) on the bar, we therefore can control for certain factors such as relative strength and strength-bodyweight ratio, meanwhile, working for 5 minutes controls for work capacity and lactic threshold. Therefore, this arrangement became the great equalizer among all three. Not only is this challenge a feat of strength, but also a feat of endurance and mental fortitude. 
​Perhaps the most interesting part of the challenge was the fact that within these 5 minutes of squatting, athletes can rest at any time by racking the bar. This rest can be both a blessing and a curse: on the one hand, athletes get a chance to get the necessary recovery after completing a number of reps, but on the other, every rest period eats away at crucial seconds to accumulate more reps. Perhaps what’s more daunting, is the fact that every rest period is a progressive reminder of the increasing fatigue and lactic build up in the muscles. So managing rest, became both a strategic decision, as well as a battle of the will between the athlete and fatigue. 
What really pleased me about the results of the challenge was four-fold:
1. All participants of the challenge pushed themselves to the absolute limit. What I saw is an incredible demonstration of fortitude as athletes continuously worked for 5 minutes straight. What I heard confirmed what I saw. Athletes pushing out every particle of air from their lungs as they willed their legs to push out another rep. As many athletes discovered, 5 minutes is an incredibly long time under tension, but with the clock counting down, everyone sprinted right through the finish line.

2. It affirmed to me that the competition was evenly matched across the different disciplines, and that from a relative strength perspective, we are doing everything right at the gym in terms of programming. Having scanned the results from all participants, if we were to control for the four different divisions, the results were more or less within 10 reps of each other. This is remarkable when one considers how different the modality of training are between CrossFit, Powerlifting, and Olympic Weightlifting. So this demonstrates that different programming works to see gains in relative strength.

3. The sense of community and togetherness that was fostered at the gym. This event saw even representation of athletes from the different programs. Each cheering each other on regardless of training methodology. The barbell doesn’t care if you train in a CrossFit, Powerlifting, or Olympic Weightlifting modality, so there was a real sense that everyone was in this together, and that no matter what, every athlete is crossing that five-minute finish line together. Of course, the tacos and the drinks after the challenge greatly facilitated in the post-exhaustion relief and celebrations!

4. How smooth the entire event was from beginning to finish. Believe it or not, we finished the challenge 15 minutes ahead of schedule! With 5 heats planned, I budgeted a generous amount of time for transition in between. However, that proved to be totally unnecessary as the volunteers and coaches changed the load like clockwork. Everyone, from athletes to staff, knew exactly where they were supposed to be and when. As such, we all ran like one well oiled machine, the machine of 6S!

Now onto the recognition of the winners from this challenge:

In the Intermediate Female category, Maurissa Bell squatted 76 reps!
In the Intermediate Male category, Julien Raymond squatted 114 reps (that’s 1 rep every 2.6 seconds)!
In the RX female category, Victoria Catterson squatted 53 reps!
In the RX male category, Quintin Attema squatted 66 reps!

Congratulations to the winners and all the athletes who competed. Simply taking this challenge on was a brag-worthy endeavor to begin with. Your work ethic inspire us every single day! Although I did notice a suspicious absence of the participants on Sunday and Monday’s classes…I wonder why that could be? 

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