Ahhh the squat. Perhaps the most commonly performed and seen exercise in gyms and classes all over the world. When performed correctly the squat utilises your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, abs, core and back (Some used more than others obviously), but the issue is that a large percentage of people don’t actually do squats right (Believe me I’ve seen some shockers in my time).
But what is the right squat and what isn’t? Well you’re about to find out
Drop it like a Squat
First off, it’s important to remember that everyone is built differently so we call will squat in our own unique and special way, but there are a few key points to remember no matter how you are built:
- Your knees should track over and in line with your toes – Yes, forget whatever you’ve heard in P.E, your toes 100% should track over and in line with your toes if you want to hit proper depth
- Try to go as close to parallel as you can while keeping your chest up and back straight. Now while you want to try to keep as upright as you can, most people will need to lean slightly forward in someway and this is completely fine! So long as the path of the bar or whatever bit of kit you’re using to squat is travelling in a vertical path and not swinging forward you’re going to be on the right track. Also, people with long thigh bones (Femurs) in comparison to their torso will have more forward lean than others.
- If you physically can’t go to parallel without keeping your back, and in particular lower back straight and locked in then you need to work on your flexibility and shouldn’t force yourself to go too low. If you are trying to go lower than your body will currently allow you to then you could end up causing yourself an injury!
Now once you try several times to do a squat correctly you may find that it feels a lot better than the way you were doing it before but are perhaps struggling to go as low as before, or are feeling tightness in certain areas. Here is a quick fire guide to what can be tight to restrict squatting movement and how to fix it:
- Hip Flexors – If you feel discomfort around the crease area of the hip as you get to the bottom then it’s likely that your hip flexors are tight! Here is a demonstration of a good basic stretch to do for the hip flexors.
- Calves – Calves are troublesome things and don’t get nearly enough attention as they should. If you calves are tight then you will probably struggle to hit good depth as your knees will only be able to come so far forward which means you’ll hit a sticking point when going down. Below is a basic stretch to try and in the meantime, place small plates under your heels to increase the range of motion you have (Same thing as squat shoes).
- Hamstrings – Hammys are another one that can very easily get tight and can cause a whole host of issues. Try stretching out each leg independently as you’ll be able to get a much better stretch that way. Here is a great one that I used a lot after I tore my hamstring a couple of years ago.
*Best place to try this one is on your bed – great to do before you go to sleep to relax you!
Now as with any part of fitness there is a hell of a lot more to it than what we’ve just talked about when it comes the squatting right, but hopefully that should have given you a few pointers about what you should and need to do.