The Nap that’s Deadlier than the Burpee Nap

October 14, 2016

Photocredit: Red X Crossfit 


We all know about the “burpee nap” (also known as the “pushup nap”) – during a series of burpees or pushups, while we’re on the floor, we stay there for a couple seconds longer than we should to rest. Those seconds add up, but they don’t compromise our form or our health. The “squat nap” does.

What’s the Squat Nap, and Why Is It Bad?

In a squat nap, you’re not actually lying down. It happens during front squats and thrusters, when you’re in the bottom of your squat. Instead of remaining upright, you collapse forward, rounding your back. It’s a very easy thing to do: the load is heavy, you’re fatigued, and you don’t want to get up. And once you fall into the squat nap trap, getting up is very, very difficult. My coach pointed out to me how I was bottoming out in my front squats, and now I can’t help but notice that I do it all the time.

The reason why it’s so easy to bottom out in front squats is the added range of motion. Your pelvis tilts backwards slightly, easing up on the hamstrings, and letting you get all the way down to the bottom. But if your core isn’t strong enough, your elbows don’t stay high enough, or you can’t stay upright, you’re going to collapse forward and have to dump your load.


How to Wake Up

The simple answer to how to improve your front squats and not fall into a squat nap is to stay upright. But that’s easier said than done. There are a few things you can do to stay upright in your front squats and prevent bottoming out:

  • Squat straight down. Keep your pelvis between your legs; don’t send it back, and don’t sit back too far. Otherwise, you’re going to round your back, and there goes your front squat.

  • Keep your elbows up. Don’t use the cross-front grip; you won’t be able to keep your elbows up, which helps you keep the bar racked high. And don’t death-grip the bar, either; you should be able to hold it with a light clean grip and let your front lats do the work.

  • Keep your chest up. It’s so tempting (at least for me!) to collapse forward. Resist the urge.

  • Keep your core tight. Front squats really require core strength. If you find yourself collapsing a lot, it’s time to do some more core workouts. It’s how you’re going to be able to keep your chest up.

  • Look forward, not down. Pick a spot on the other side of the box, and focus on that.

  • Get your hips under the bar right away. When you’re coming up, use the strength in your quads and squeeze your glutes. In fact, just squeeze your glutes all the time.

  • Push through your heels. Drive hard and fast out of the bottom. Don’t pause.

  • Breathe!

If all else fails, lighten the load. (I know, I don’t want to hear that, either!) Work on drills with PVC pipes to practice keeping your elbows forward and your core tight. You’ll see a big improvement in your front squats and thrusters over time.


This is a guest post from Christine Parizo, a half marathoner and new CrossFitter based in Houston. She recently qualified for guaranteed entry for the Houston Marathon and plans to run it in 2017. Christine blogs about running, CrossFit, and fitness at You can follow Christine on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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