Today’s blog is part 1 of a 3 part series about one of the most important and foundational exercises in your program. It’s the exercise I see most commonly done with poor form, which can lead to some serious knee, hip, low back, and even neck issues.
I often use this movement to find muscle imbalances as well as a metabolic fat loss exercise. Learn how to properly do this movement and a lot of your nagging pains as well as your overall metabolism get ignited.
Enter the SQUAT
How, you ask, can this exercise help find muscle imbalances?
Knees forward = quad dominance and/or posterior chain weakness
Heels Up = Lack of ankle mobility and/or the above
Lack of depth = thoracic spine mobility or hip instability/tightness
Rouding at the low back = hip tightness/core weakness
These are just a couple, and further any of these faults can be from a misunderstanding of the movement or a motor control error.
You’re probably also asking how this is one of the most metabolically active exercises.
Compound movement = the more joints moving, the more muscle activated
Complex movement = The higher the difficulty of the movement the higher the CNS activation. If you’ve read my past blogs, this is a “self limiting” exercise
Integration into different energy systems = you can make this more anaerobic or more aerobic depending on the set, rep, and rest scheme as well as which exercises are paired up with it and how
Here’s the five step sequence on how to squat:
To find your squat starting position, point your feet straight with somewhere between 5 and 12 degrees of toe out. Squeeze your butt, pull your ribs down, and get your abs tight. Keep the weight centered over the front of your ankles, and “spread the floor” by pushing the feet against the outsides of the shoes.
Push your hamstrings back and drive your knees outward laterally. Keeping the shins as vertical as possible, pull yourself into the bottom position.
Pull your shins back to vertical and extend your knees and hips to reverse into the standing position.
Reclaim your beginning position by getting organized: squeeze your butt, hide your ribs and get your belly tight.
Here are six common mistakes of the squat and how to correct them:
- Focus on “spreading the floor” and driving your knees out and your hamstrings back
- You may have to mobilize the hip rotators, quads, and hip flexors through foam rolling, lacrosse ball, and/or massage therapy
Overextension At The Lumbar Spine
- Same as above
- You may have to mobilize hip flexors, quads, glutes, and hamstrings
- Work on beginning position of the squat and keeping your belly tight
Valgus Knee Collapse
- Same as above
- Mobilize the quads, hamstrings, glutes, as well as the calf and Achilles
- The butt wink is actually a rounding at the lumbar spine. This is no bueno for your low back and can lead to some serious long term damage.
- Mobilize the hips and stabilize the core. Also work on getting organized in your beginning position.
If these don’t work, just squat to the point above where you start rounding or “winking.”
Head Not In Neutral
- When your head goes up in the squat, the point of stress changes from your hips to your low back. Tuck your chin on the bottom of the movement AND keep your eyes mobile by still looking at the same point in front of you
- 9x out of 10 this is due to ankle mobility. Stretch out those calves and mobilize the ankle joint as much as possible.