The Squat!

The Squat!

Sticking with our basics theme let’s take a look at one of the fundamental lifts the Squat. Should I Squat? Unless you have an injury preventing you from doing so the answer is a definite YES!!! The caveat is you need to learn to squat properly. But I thought squatting was bad for your knees? True, if you’re not squatting properly. Squatting properly will not only help strengthen your knees it will also give you tremendous strength and explosion gains. In this blog we are going to go over a few of the fundamentals of the air squat and how to do it properly and safely. Keep in mind these aren’t the only rules to follow while squatting but it will give you a good base to start with. There are so many variations and techniques we could write a book on the squat but ain’t nobody got time for that! When we teach a squat we use a progression system. Going from body weight, to kettle bell, to bar squats. It’s critical that a person can properly do an air squat before you start adding a bar and weight on their back. Adding weight before you have the form down will just reinforce bad motor patterns that can be very difficult if not impossible to correct. So what do you need to focus on for a squat. Here are some of the main components we look for.

1.Heels on the ground at all times. The heel should remain on the ground for the entirety of the squat. At no point should you be on your toes during the squat. While it may make it easier to get lower during an air squat it will throw you off balance the second you add weight and all your power comes from your heels.

2. Don’t let your knees cave in. Your knees should push out over your toes and should not go toward each other. If your knees touch while doing a squat it’s imperative that you work on fixing this before you add weight. Squatting with your knees coming in together is just asking for a knee injury in the future. We may have another blog on this in the future but in short if your knees are touching it’s a clear sign that you are susceptible to a future ACL tear.

3. Your back should remain tight during the whole squat. What I mean by tight is no rounding of the lower back. Think of and focus keeping a big chest sticking out when you squat. If your lower back rounds while you squat it puts your chest over your toes resulting in a loss of balance that only gets worse when you add weight.

4. Your hips should go lower than your knees! This is considered parallel or below parallel. It’s a misconception that the leg parallel to the ground equals parallel. If you cannot get past this point you need to continue to practice air squats and work on mobility before moving on. If you can’t get past this point you are doing what we like to refer to as a quarter squat. I don’t think there is nothing more aggravating than people who brag about squatting heavy weight and then you see them load the bar up only to get to a 45-degree angle at best. Congratulations you’ve successfully unracked the weight and that’s about it! Stopping your squat above this point is not going to make you stronger and is also damaging to your knees. Think of your knee as a pendulum. Once your hip passes your knee the pressure is removed from your knee and placed into your much more stable hips. By stopping above the knee all the weight is pushed directly out to your knee.

A few tips. If you don’t have a trainer working with you video your squats. It’s almost impossible to tell what’s going on with your body while you’re performing the motion. It may feel like you’re going plenty deep enough and your back is nice and upright until you look at a video. Even advanced lifters still video their lifts to look for imperfections in form. When you squat go down slowly. Dropping down to the bottom with speed can cause everything to come out of alignment so take your time on the way down and focus on the form. Spend time at the bottom. Get used to that position and it will give you great results I promise! A common exercise we like to do is squat holds. To perform a squat hold go to the bottom of your squat and sit there. Start for 30s and work your way up. To consider yourself successful at the squat hold you should be able to hold it for 5 minutes. If you have issues with depth this is a great mobility exercise to do as well. Finally, practice, practice, and practice. Most people are not going to get the squat down pat the first go around. That’s okay, if you’ve never done it before it’s a really unusual and uncomfortable position so it’s going to take some time to adapt and get your body mobile enough to perform.

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