Squats, are one of the most fundamental and used movements we do on a daily basis, yet still it’s a hard one to perfect. I wanted to start this mini series of #techniquetalk to help those new people in the gym get the best results possible and minimise the risk of injury! And also just to help those people who have experience alter their technique for maximum gains!
Now, if over the new year you have either bought yourself an online programme or signed up with a personal trainer in the gym, I’m 99% sure that squatting will be involved one way or another. If you are that lucky person who has managed to scrounge some pennies together and invest in a PT, hope it’s a good one, they should be instructing you exactly how to squat…if they’re not, get your dollar back!!
You squat more times a day than you think
We, as humans, squat all day everyday without even realising. To sit on the toilet, look in the freezer, sit on the tube, basically everytime you sit then stand or stand then sit you are doing the squatting movement. Maybe it’s not to an optimal standard but I wouldn’t expect you to squat perfectly on and off your office chair, you may get some funny looks if you know what I mean!
But what you may think sounds like a simple movement, can also be done very wrong when you add extra weight loading to either the front or back of the body. Mobility and flexibility are also huge factors to consider, I don’t want to scare you away, but it’s more technical than people think. So, let’s get to it shall we…
It takes time finding what works for you
First things first, let me just say now that improving your technique isn’t going to happen instantly. It takes time, consistency and practice! Try and video yourself from a side and back angle if possible to really see exactly how you squat both bodyweight and with added weight, i.e. using a barbell.
Shall we start from the bottom up…
Getting a good base to start is essential. So many things to mention here it’s nuts. Right, personally, I find that having my feet just outside shoulder width works better for me as I’m a tall gal. Have your toes slightly pointed out with all the weight in your heels, so you should be able to wiggle your toes slightly. At all points through the movement, your weight distribution should be on your heels, keep those toes wiggling! This will ensure that your knees are protected and your booty is back. Stand tall, shoulders back, chest lifted, eyes forward, glutes clenched.
Ideally, you want your hips parallel with your knees. But this might not be achievable straight away and that’s fine. Only go as low as you can whilst keeping that posture mentioned above. What I’ve found to be really useful is placing either a bench or dumbbell, depending on how adventurous you are feeling, under your squat as a touching point. You want your peach to just lightly touch the top of either that bench or dumbbell. No sitting or bouncing off of it, just lightly touch and back up. This way you can adjust the height and get lower and lower over the weeks.
Keep the weight in your heels. Watch for your ankles rolling in or out. Push the knees out. Butt goes back. Chest should be lifted. Shoulders back and eyes forward. Don’t forget to BREATHE. That might seem like a lot of things to think about. This is why I said if you film yourself, you’ll be able to see the little things that you may just need to adjust. Start with body weight, just you squatting, then slowly add in a barbell. Make adaptions slowly.
Don’t feel like you have to use lifting shoes, a belt or knees sleeves straight away. I’ve only just started using them and I’m 4 years into training! I use a lifting belt from Bear Grips which I’ve found super comfortable and easy to use. If you want the best knee sleeves I would recommend investing in Rehband knee sleeves, again so easy to use and you can really feel the benefits!
But, first things first, get the movement spot on before you start really going for it. The one thing I would really recommend though is either wearing no shoes at all or nike metcons/vans/converse. Reason being, these trainers all have a super flat sole. No arch or sole support which is weirdly what you want for squatting. Wearing your nike running shoes for weightlifting doesn’t really make sense does it…they’re fit for different purposes. But lifting in just socks is efficient enough!
Just remember, like I said earlier, it takes time. Doing your warm ups, mobility exercises and stretching post workout will all come together to get the perfect squat for your body type. So don’t put pressure on yourself to lift a certain weight, keep the focus on technique and the weight will increase slowly but surely.
Drop a comment below if you have any questions and please do let me know if you found this useful and what other exercises you’d like broken down as I enjoyed writing this piece.
Disclaimer: Any links I’ve used are affiliate links where I get a small percentage of the price if you happen to buy the items.