How to perfect your squat

Author: Emily Taylor
Date: 05/03/2019
Category: Grow

Squats. Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that they’re pretty much unbeatable when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck out of one exercise. Social media might have you believing that they just work your #booty, but the reality is they do so much more. They work your quads, core and, crucially, your posterior chain (which includes your erector spinae muscles, glutes, hamstrings, calves and more).

Developing your posterior chain is key for improving posture, mobility, balance and core stability. Strengthening these muscles can help to protect against injury and pain in the spine, hips and knees, and can help to improve your performance when it comes to running, jumping and lifting movements. A strong posterior chain means more efficient movement in our day-to-day lives, from walking and running, getting up from chairs, lifting things up and down, jumping, etc (learn more here).

 

In case you’re not already convinced that squats are amazing, consider this: our posterior chain is made up of some of the largest muscles in the body, so developing them increases your body’s capacity for calorie-burning. This is because, for every pound of additional muscle that we gain, our body burns an additional 50-70 calories per day.

 

The squat is a fundamental movement pattern, that humans learn early on as babies. But unfortunately, many adults don’t know how to squat properly anymore – which is key to reap the rewards outlined above! Common mistakes include rounding or over-arching the back or bringing the hips up too soon after sinking into the squat position. Knees caving in is also a common cause for concern, as this can exert undue pressure on the joints in angles they’re not equipped to deal with.

A few tips on good squat form:

  1. Stand with feet approximately shoulder width apart, toes pointing straight ahead or slightly pointed out
  2. Begin to sit ‘back and down’ by hinging at the hips and flexing the knees, as if sitting into a chair
  3. Chest should be upright, spine neutral, core is engaged and rigid
  4. Descend to a position that can be comfortably controlled without any movement compensations, such as exaggerated lean of the upper body, knees knocking in, rounding or arching of the lower back, or even the feet turning collapsing inwards or rolling outwards
  5. To rise back up to standing, activate the glute muscles and drive up through the heels to generate the force required to extend the knees and hips
  6. Contract the glutes as you reach the final standing position, hips and legs fully extended

 

If you’re struggling with your squat – don’t worry. There’ll be a way to fix it! The first thing to appreciate is that everyone is built a little differently in terms of their hips and pelvic structure, so not everyone will squat in exactly the same way. There may also be some underlying issues causing poor technique. For example, if your knees move inwards when you squat, you may have weak glutes and/or core muscles, or limited ankle mobility. Whatever the reason, once the cause is identified, your trainer can work with you to improve the issue – which is really important to prevent future knee problems like patellofemoral pain.

Once you’ve mastered the bodyweight squat, it may be time to move on and try something more challenging – check out our top 5 squat variations here! And if you’re struggling with your squat form, don’t hesitate to chat to one of the trainers at Grow.

 

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