The squat is something that we do every single day, many times. When we sit down in a chair, when we use the bathroom, when we get in and out of our car, and more. We love to squat, whether we realize it or not!
Squats rank as one of the best exercises for increasing strength and toning up those problem areas (like your butt). Doing a squat incorrectly, however, can lead to serious injury.
Here is how you can achieve maximum results while avoiding injury.
First, let me start this post by saying if you have any concerns about your squat start by asking a professional to look at your squat and give you advice. Having another set of eyes is always wise (nice rhyme).
Start with your feet just outside of hip width apart. This will allow you to keep a more upright torso. If you set-up to narrow you more than likely will not have the mobility to maintain an upright torso and lead to a rounded back. Anytime that the back begins to round we have a much higher risk of the squat leading to a back injury.
Toes pointed slightly out. You will determine how wide you set your feet with how your knees track. You want to ensure that you are not rotated too far out otherwise your toes will not track properly and vice versa. There are a lot of factors that determine this including limb length which will be a little bit different for everyone.
Create torque from the ground. You want to act as if you are screwing your feet into the ground. This engages your glutes and allows for your knees to track properly.
Make sure that your core is tight by filling your diaphragm with air and bracing properly (that will be a later blog post)
Break the hips (not literally) by pushing your butt back and lowering to the bottom of your squat. We are going to aim for the hip crease to reach just below the knee. If this is hard for you, spend time on mobility, without weight, and make this a goal of improvement.
Keep the torso as upright as possible. The more forward lean that is created the more pressure there is on the lower lumbar (no bueno).
Note: Weight focus should be on the heels. If you roll towards your toes the pressure is now on the knees. Also, keeping the weight back on the heels ensures your glutes and quads remain engaged.
Watch the video below for a step by step guide. Again, starting with the basics outlined above and working towards adding weight is the best way to ensure you are safely and effectively executing the lift.
Keep squatting my friends.