Most people, gym goer or not will be familiar with 'the squat'. There is a whole load of variations of the squat but today I'll be talking mainly about the standard barbell back squat.
The technique you see in the Olympics.
The technique people refer to when saying 'she squats' about any female with a slightly shaped bum.
The technique the big weight lifters like to compare their max weights on.
The King of all exercises, or is it?
Now, I am not for one minute saying the squat is a bad exercise. It is definitely up there with the best. IF it is performed correctly. And that is a massive IF.
In today's world, posture issues and muscular imbalances means performing a squat correctly can be difficult or even impossible for a lot of people. Especially the everyday day office worker who may have one of the following postural issues...
- Rounded or tight shoulders
- Tight hip flexors (top of your upper leg)
- Weak or in active glutes (the ones we sit on too much)
- Poor ankle stability/mobility
If you have ever squatted and felt lower back pain, knee pain, shoulder/ neck pain. Chances are you need to address one of these before going all guns blazing at the squat rack.
Other signs of not being quite ready to squat are;
- Torso leaning too far forward
- Hips kicking out to one side
- Not getting low enough (top of your leg wants to be at least 90 degrees to the floor)
- Not feeling the correct muscles working. (Glutes/quads/core)
So what can you do to perfect the squat whilst also getting the maximum out of your session?
Firstly, address any postural issues. Then add in some daily mobility exercises, foam rolling and stretching.
Using some glute activation exercises before going into any form of squat will have huge benefits.
This can be done by strapping a resistance band around the top of the knees, squat down and walk. Go for 20 steps forward, 20 steps back, 10 steps each side. Rest and repeat. If your bums not on fire and you don’t feel a little bit silly, you’re probably not doing it right.
Onto the squatting!
I tend to start most of my clients off with a simple Goblet box squat. Holding a dumbbell at the chest, squatting down to a bench/ box/ step.
This is great for getting use to the basic movement pattern. Getting the right depth in a squat and getting a feel for which muscles SHOULD be working.
Another one of my favourites for working the glutes, hamstrings and getting a feel for these muscles is the barbell hip thrust.
Lie with your shoulders and upper back on a bench, feet flat on the floor about shoulder width apart. Place/ roll a barbell onto your hips, push up squeezing your bum as hard as you can at the top of the movement, lower back down and repeat.
If unsure ask one of the gym staff, if they are clueless, you may have to YouTube it.
Use these two exercises until you are ready to go to a full blown squat, if anyone tells you otherwise chances are they are just an Internet expert so be wary, there's a lot of them about.
Any questions, fire away on here or on my Facebook below...