The simple answer:
If you are going to be doing a movement in some form or another potentially hundreds of times each and every day, wouldn’t you agree that making sure you are doing it correctly should be important, to avoid the inevitable “straw that broke the camel’s back” that shows up in a knee, back or some other injury?
The squat is not only a fun to hate exercise in the gym, it’s a fundamental movement of life.
If we look at the squat, it sure seems simple enough: go down, come back up and we’re good.
Babies also make it look that simple, they have that innate ability to squat, and squat perfectly, right from the get-go.
They stay perfectly upright in the torso, feet, ankles, knees, and hips, all in perfect alignment.
Yet somewhere along the way we tend to lose this.
(Unfortunately we sit like this way too often, and then wonder why we have trouble squatting)
We squat in and out of varying positions, off chairs, toilets, from the floor, we also sit for long periods in what should be a good squat like position.
If your body learns to support the forms it spends most of its time in, (Kelly Starrett), then it would seem that one could really benefit from learning how to properly perform a movement that needs to be done multiple times a day over the course of a lifetime.
Once we’ve successfully forgotten how to squat it take quite a while to fully re-learn.
You may have spent years avoiding hard/weak positions and teaching your body to tighten up to support “bad” postures.
2 Major Squat Issues to pay attention to:
1 – Ankle Mobility:
Having full range of motion in your ankles is one of the most important parts of a good quality squat, and for general knee health for that matter. Lacking mobility in the ankle means you are going to have trouble getting deep enough into the squat without leaning far forward, and/or lifting your heels. Like this:
How do you fix tight ankles:
A – Stretch Calves
B – Toes Elevated Knee Extensions
(Elevated toes with a book or plate, let knee go forward to stretch. Goal is to be able to comfortably get the knee out past the toes.)
Shoot for 2-3x’s per day until it gets easy, then do them during workout warm ups.
Do 2-3 sets of 20 per leg.
C – Work on Deep Squat Holds
As simple as it sounds, sit into a squat and hold it. Work up to 10mins. If you have trouble getting into the bottom position without falling over try this:
2 – The Lazy Torso:
The other major fault about squatting we normally see is that people often get sucked into thinking the squat is a lower body only exercise.
The Squat is so much more than that.
This was never more apparent to me before until I started Overhead Squatting.
The tension in your upper body you need to keep to support that bar above you is tremendous.
You have to keep applying upward pressure with your upper body, while your lower body descends and ascends.
Simply applying this concept to any standing lower body work has made a great difference in how I train.
With the back squat make sure you are pushing up into the bar with your upper body while you lower body goes down and up. The same applies to the front squat or even the split squat.
FIND AND CREATE TENSION TO SUPPORT THE BAR. THEN YOU CAN MOVE.
When learning or practicing make sure you go slow enough to feel when you lose tension and correct it. Make sure you are consistent before you apply speed or add weight.
Other squatting tips and cues that may help:
- Have to work form and mobility daily
- Have to feel/grip the floor with your feet
- Before you do anything in the gym: “FIND TENSION THEN MOVE”
- STAND INTO THE BAR AT ALL TIMES
- Push the earth/floor away from you.
- STAY ENGAGED. Do not relax, it can’t be a lazy, passive movement
- Need to do sets of 1-3 reps, 50-100 reps, as well as everything in between
- Squats NEED VOLUME. More than 1 time per week to get better