Many people have heard that they should be performing squats to get the best results possible from their weight training activity. If your goals are to look better, burn body fat, be stronger, have a better backside and legs, then yes the squat is probably a great exercise for you. We prioritise squats in our training programs at The Active Lifestyle, because of the great results they give you!
Unfortunately, most people perform the squat wrongly. Here, we give you a few tips on how to squat with better form - most people are making a few glaring technique mistakes that greatly affect not only how well they can squat but also how safe they are when performing the movement. Because it is a full body movement, it allows you to use more weight, which invariably brings better results. However, it's important to remember that there is a loaded barbell on your back (or you are supporting heavy weight in another way, but for this note we are looking at barbell squats) and therefore there is a potential for injury if moving incorrectly.
Breaking down the squat into the basic movements and really focusing on technique will help you progress with the movement, increasing the strength, power, and flexibility throughout. And the benefits don’t stop there.
From experience of 100's of clients and 1000's of sessions over the past 8 years, it is clear that the biggest things people fail to do when they squat is as follows:
- People who don't sit back (move their butt backwards), push outwards with their feet and drive their knees outward. Knee valgus, where the knee 'caves' inwards, is a recipe for disaster, putting serious strain on the ligaments of the knees and potentially causing serious injury. People who experience knee pain when squatting almost always have problems with their form and how they use their feet. With a bit of mobility work and some technique correction, most people can squat pain free regardless of any knee troubles.
- People who don't tense and squeeze their shoulder blades to support the weight on their back, which can cause them to fold 'over' and round their upper back (kyphotic posture). This puts a huge strain on the spine and associated discs and vertebrae which are important for everything you do.
- People who don't move the bar fast. In lifting we call this 'attacking' the bar. When performing the concentric part of a movement, eg PUSHING the weight, it's important to drive out of the the bottom position of the squat (called the hole) as fast as possible. Why? The hardest part of any exercise is where you change from one direction to the other - in the case of the squat, you sit back and the bar lowers - when you want to come up and stand up straight again, you have to reverse the motion of the bar and your body to make it rise again. This, as you can imagine, is hard work. So by attacking the bar and attempting to move it as fast as possible, it makes the rest of the lift easier. (Force = Mass * Acceleration).
Watch the video above to see these tips in action and put them into practice next time you are squatting. Your body will thank you! If you want to learn more about training optimally to get the results you want, we run small group training sessions personalised to you and your goals. Our members only private training studio is in Mt Eden, Auckland and has car parks onsite.