Among compound exercises (movements using multiple muscles), the squat is king as it works the entire body at once.
It begins with your arms to hold the bar in place, down to your core for stability and then, of course, the lower body. It is a powerful exercise and one, which has to be included in everyone’s weight lifting routine.
Yet, are you doing the movement properly?
In general, a beginner will have technical flaws in their squatting form. It happens and adjustments should be made because getting injured is a real possibility as the weight increases. Poor habits might go unnoticed with just the bar on your shoulders, but when serious weight is being added, the stress could cause life-altering trouble. Do not risk it.
Begin by learning how to improve your form and find those hidden kinks.
Push Your Knees Out
A common mistake is to go straight down. It is how most beginners assume the movement is being done because their eyes are fixated on the bar. You cannot go straight down as this will cause injury to the spine.
- You need to position your feet in a manner which pushes the knees outwards.
- Look down at your feet with the bar on your shoulders (it is better to practice with just the bar).
- You want to have the feet pointing outwards rather than straight ahead. If you were standing in the middle of a clock, your feet would be pointing at 10 and 2.
- You will then bend at the knees as you go down and push them out. You want to spread the knees as much as you can while going down.
Weight Should Remain On The Heels
The squat is supposed to be ‘quad-centric’ as a movement. So, to have this done properly, you need to remain on your heels as the weight comes down and you are ‘squatting’.
If you are leaning forward, the weight will remain on your toes and that is going to cause two things to occur. First, you will most likely topple over because the weight is going to shift forward. Second, you will injure your knees because the weight is being put on the joints and not the quads.
Aim to almost sit back on your heels. It is like trying to sit on a chair.
Go Below Parallel
How far should you go to maximize the squat? Should you just hit 90 degrees and call it a good repetition?
No, you have to go beyond that (barring injury concerns) because the next few inches is where the real value comes in.
You want to go about 3-4 inches below parallel.
Some experts say it is best to almost touch your bum to your heels. This is not necessary and is extreme. When the weight goes up, you won’t be able to go this deep and it might cause unnecessary strain. Just aim to go about 3-4 inches below parallel and you’ll be fine.
This is how you work on the squat at the gym. It should be the focus of your leg routine because it is a mighty effective muscle builder. It is just a pure natural movement and something you could use in real life to while picking up things and moving them around.
Get the squat right because as that weight goes up, you could be in a lot of trouble.