Workout of the Day:
Overhead Squats
(Optional Finisher – Complete 100 Overhead Squats with 75/45 lbs. in as few sets as possible.) 

The Pronated Squat - so ugly, so dysfunctional
Not Pretty, Not Strong, Not Efficient

The Pronated Squat – So Ugly, So Dysfunctional
Written by C.J. Martin 

Pronating (rolling to the arch of your foot) while squatting is an ugly beast. On the descent (or sometimes only on the ascent from the bottom) we see the knees cave in toward each other and the weight roll to the arch of the foot. Any hope of proper hip, knee and ankle alignment is gone. The result is an increased likelihood of knee injury and drastically decreased ability to generate power. 

The pronated squat (or valgus squat – meaning that the knee drops inside the base of the foot) is symptomatic of a lack of hip and pelvic control. Muscle imbalances (too much quad and too little glute) and poor activation of the glute medius is typically to blame. Repeatedly grooving this nasty and deficient pattern can set you up for all sorts of maladies. When the knees cave in, pressure is shifted to the medial aspect of the knee (the inside of your knee) and all the precious ligaments that keep your knee from buckling in. Those cues you hear, “push your knees out” or “press into the outside edges of your feet,” are designed to ensure that everything stays nicely aligned in an optimal position.

Prettier, Stronger, More Efficient
Prettier, Stronger, More Efficient

But it’s not just the potential for injury that should scare you into assessing your squat. The bigger issue is efficiency. A proper squat is one that recruits the most powerful hip extensors (the glute max and hamstrings). But these monsters are virtually shut down when your knees cave together. Don’t believe me? Stand up from your computer right now, roll to the arch of your foot and draw your knees together and try to contract your glutes (i.e., squeeze your cheeks). It’s not easy. Now push your knees away from each other and roll to the outside ridge of your foot and squeeze your cheeks. It’s like magic. Those big powerful caboose muscles are what we want to power us through the squat, and they simply don’t work when the knees are rolling together and the feet are pronating.

  • POS

    Good morning Invictus, this question is CJ, Calvin, Mark or anyone else who might want to chime in on it. I have a feeling I know the answer but I am looking for your thoughts. Are people with flat feet/ fallen arches predisposed to the “ugly (not Uggs-ly) squat syndrome, compared with someone with a good arch? As someone with little to no arch I find that I can feel my arches rolling in and my knees/thighs wanting to follow at times. Through a lot of practice and concentration I have gotten pretty good but there is always a tendency for them to want to roll in.

    PS – is the 100 OHSs for time as well as least amount of sets?

  • Mark Riebel

    POS, I would say that a lack of arch does not predispose you to rolling in with your knees. Granted, more of your foot starts on the ground already due to the flat feet, but it’s your gluteus medius and other muscles pulling your knees out to the sides along with your proper mechanics of keeping the weight on your heels that prevents you from squatting ugly. Just because the balls/bottom of your feet are in contact with the ground doesn’t mean that you have to put your weight on them. Try conciously “spreading the floor” with your feet as you drive your knees out. It should help.

    Also, I hear 95 is the new 75.

  • Cynthia

    Elle and Amy looked positively AWESOME this morning! They were spanking the OHS with great form. The radiant smiles after making the lifts were just as beautiful as the lifts.

    Big fun!

  • Dani

    Woke up at 5 a.m. totally prepared to workout. Decided to stop by Starbucks on my way to the gym. I knew we were lifting heavy which meant I could get away with drinking a huge coffee before and during. Except I got to the gym and decided my body had endured enough torture the past few days AND…I rested. Quite a big accomplishment for me.

    Although I was resting I did get to be a part of Wayne’s big accomplishment. Today Wayne put up bodyweight OHS. Very impressive my friend. I know I was hammering you on depth but that is only because I know you are capable of it. I was very impressed with your performance this morning. Keep up the good work Wink.

    Look forward to seeing 6:30 p.m. put up some big numbers too. And wondering if anyone can knock out the 100 reps of OHS unbroken.

    Hope everyone has a great day!

  • POS

    AWESOME work Wayne! 15 rep BW OHS is not too far off!!

  • Ali Incredible

    Way to go Winky Winkerton! Awesome job!!

  • Trish

    Awesome work Winkster!!!

  • Wayne

    Huge props to Bee Charmer this morning! Taking the bull by the horns does not describe the determination you show in conquering deficiencies. Soon your OHS skills be on par with the rest of your arsenal of movements. Truly inspirational, nice work buddy!

    Thanks to BC, Dani, Snax, and CJ for the support and encouragement on the lifts today, pretty weird having that much weight overhead for the first time.

    Dani, thanks for hammering me on ‘the higher standard’ – its the new ‘acceptable’ just like 95# is the new 75#.

    POS, only freaks like you and CJ do that! And I hear 21 is the new 15…

  • Mark Riebel

    Nice work Wayne! Only 14 more…

  • POS

    Wayne, I have yet to sniff the freak category. That honor is soley bestowed upon your humble leader, CJ. Not to mention his Hurculean Max OHS, I think it is something close to BW + 100#. Don’t let the welterweight fool you, he is a beast!

    And 21 is SO not the new 15, I will give you 95 is the new 75 though.

  • Chris

    Dani – You bring up a really good point of discussion. For some people, deciding to ‘not workout’ is easy. As CrossFitters, it seems like we struggle with just the opposite. I think you set a great example by showing us that we need to be in tune with our bodies and know that it’s okay to take a day off (even if its’ not your rest day).
    I’m no advocate of skipping a WOD day due to ‘normal’ soreness or because I have a case of the ‘blahs’ (all the more reason to hit the WOD!), but everyone needs to know when the CNS and muscles are just too taxed to perform a safe and intense WOD. Good call coach! I’m glad you shared.

    Wink – I have been working out with/chasing you for a year now. You’re always challenging me, and today was no exception. Watching you hit that 170 was real motivating. Most CF experts will agree that a correctly executed, heavy OHS is the great equalizer. Once you’ve hit a bodyweight OHS, you are at a new level. You did that today dude! Although the load was quite heavy, it wasn’t really the weight you put up that was so inspirational. Instead, I’m impressed becasue I know how hard you have worked and how far you’ve come along in your CF journey. This stuff ain’t easy and it takes a lot of heart to stick with it. You are a walking testimonial of what hard work, dedication and adherence to the CF method can produce.
    I’m super proud of you bro! Keep it up!!


  • Trish

    I’m a little late on this, but just wanted to point out that CFI was highlighted on Nicki Violetti’s blog last week (March 4th to be exact). Check it out at

  • POS

    Fun Finisher! 95 is the new 75 or at least today it was.

    95# OHS 100 Reps 4 sets (30,32,21,17 Time 9:02) Somehow 38 reps on set number three just wasn’t in the cards.

  • Camila

    I definitely am a victim of the knee rolling in, I would like to think that this happens becasue I have flat feet, but I know realize its because of various other things.

    Thanks for the article, hopefully my wobbly knees will slowly but surely listen!