Today, I want to talk about how to do a squat, rather, I want to teach you how to perform the perfect squat, because chances are…you are doing it wrong, and I don’t care if you can squat 600 lbs, your squat can still suck.
I’ll be your coach for this “how to do a squat” clinic and my son, William (less than a year old), will provide a demonstration.
Why you might ask?
Because he has the perfect squat!! I didn’t teach him how to do a squat. I didn’t spend hours working on his mobility. I don’t have to provide tactile feedback to put him in the right position.
Nope, none of that.
William, and most children, have a perfect squat. They are born that way. So what happened?? Somewhere along the way we de-programmed our perfect, natural, human movement. We stop moving the way we should, we stop stretching and we leave our muscles to fend for themselves.
Overtime, we end up with some pretty awful excuses, that we would like to call a “squat”. So let’s fix ourselves.
How To Do A Squat: The Basics
Look at that squat!! Haha, he is a little far forward, but that is mainly because of his desire to play in the water. But his hip crease is below the knee , weight is on the heels, not a total loss of the lumbar curve…This is a great squat!
Arched Back – Your back has a natural curve, the lumbar curve. You know, the reason your desk chair has a sweet little S-shape to fit right in that spot. When we squat we are not trying to straighten our natural curves. Accentuate this curve but keep your abs tight so as not to over extend the curve.
Look Straight Ahead – You don’t want to look at the ground, this does you no good. Keep your eyes forward, pick a spot and stare at it while you squat. It will help with your balance and overall alignment of the spine.
Butt Out & Down – If the butt doesn’t kick out to start your squat than that means your knees are going to have to proceed forward past the toes and, eventually, bring you off you heels. Kick your butt out and down to “sit” comfortably in your squat.
Weight on Heels – Weight on heels, weight on heels, weight on heels. This is the most important aspect, because I see it so commonly violated. If you do not have the mobility to do a full squat with your weight on your heels, then work on your mobility. Don’t start squatting on your toes as a compromise. Stay off the balls of your feet and keep the pressure on your heels. This will make for a more comfortable deep squat and will help you to be more powerful in the squat.
High Chest – The easiest way to avoid a proper full-depth squat is to bend over so far that you back is close to a 45 degree angle. Bring your chest up, engage your posterior chain and don’t make your lower back do all the work.
Tight Midsection – This goes with the arched back. A tight midsection will help keep the natural curvature of the spine. It will increase the internal pressure on your spine and help it be right where it is supposed to be. Honestly, if you aren’t used to it, heavy squats, while focusing on a tight midsection, should leave your abs pretty sore the next day…Can anyone say functional movement?
Arms Out and Up – This is clearly only for an air squat. Bringing your arms out and up will help with your posture and a high chest.
Knee Tracks Over Foot – Your feet should be pointed slightly outward when you squat. So when you go down your knees should track over the line of your foot. This means your knees will be getting further away from each other and you will be engaging all of the right muscles, which brings me to my last point…
Lastly, USE YOUR MUSCLES – You need to actively be engaging all of your muscles when you are doing squats. Hamstrings, quads, glutes, back etc. This will guarantee you are squatting safely and that you are not letting any laziness or sloppiness wreak havoc on your joints. The muscles should take the load, not your joints.
Top squatting mistakes and the “Quick Fix”
- That’s not low enough – If you’ve ever been told to not squat below parallel…that’s wrong. A full squat is safe and natural, don’t be scared of the depth. Getting the depth is the challenge! The quick fix is a wide stance, but we are in it for the long haul!!
- I was trying to touch my knees together – You know what I’m talking about. Ask someone to do a squat and their ankles cave inward and their knees follow. Quick Fix: turn the feet out 5-15 degrees, track knees over toes.
- Toes are cooler than heels – This is probably the most common mistake I see. Coming up on the toes during the squat, while it may not be too painful with an air squat, it can be detrimental to the knees once you have some weight on your back. Quick Fix: Put your weight on your heels!!
- The Squat is only about the legs – Nope, sorry. You need to be using pretty much every muscle in your entire body when you squat. Squatting should be not only physically exhausting, but also mentally exhausting from the level of concentration it takes to focus on using your entire body properly. Quick Fix: Think about and apply all of your muscles.
How To Do A Squat: Your Mobility Challenge
Give this a try! Can you complete 10 full minutes in the squat?? Try some of my tips and dig deep, you can do this!