Squats are undoubtedly one of the most fundamental exercises when it comes to training for muscle strengthening. Involving movement through your entire body, the squats not only work the entire lower half of your body, but also muscles in the upper body like the core that are crucial in perfecting form and performing the exercise correctly.
A squat isn’t just an exercise that is performed by gym-bros, but actually a very basic human movement that all of us perform, very often, every day of our lives. Remember sitting down and standing up from your sofa, work station or the loo? Yup, that’s a squat.
If you do this movement incorrectly, your body will warn you through pain signals and it might take a lot of incorrect squatting before you get these signals, especially if you often carry out bad form squat movements during your daily activities.
If you can’t do a text book, basic squat, it indicates that you either don’t know how to do a squat correctly, or that you just lack the ROM (range of motion) in certain parts of your body to perform a good squat.
Now before getting into explaining to you the right posture for doing a free squat, or the different types of common squat postures, let’s take a look at some of the myths surrounding this exercise and try to debunk them.
Myth #1 – Don’t Squat Below 90 degrees
With the proper amount of mobility and stability, squats can be performed below parallel, so long as technique is not compromised and your spine stays neutral. Deep squatting has been shown to increase the stability of the knee and activate more of the quads.
Myth #2 – Knees Should Never Go Past the Toes
Knees can in fact move beyond the toes if a person has a more vertical torso. People with a vertical torso find that there is an angle decrease at the hip joint, and an angle increase at the ankle and knee joints, which can cause the knees to move past the toes.
Myth #3 – Arch Your Back!
Many trainers will often coach their clients to stick their chest out and arch their back while descending into a squat. Remember, NEUTRAL SPINE and BRACED CORE. Your Lumbar discs will thank you later.
Myth #4 – Toes Facing Forward
Toes slightly facing outward? Up to 30 degrees is fine for most people. This allows for more freedom of movement in the hip socket and people with lesser ankle mobility to squat deep.
Myth #5 – Looking Up while coming up
All exercises should be done with a neutral spine. If you’re looking up while your spine is slanting, it’s going to do more harm than good. Avoid it.
TYPES OF SQUAT POSTURES:
Free squats: Done with a neutral spine, feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, without any weights
Narrow stance squats: Feet close together. Maximum range of motion. Works the quads and adductors.
Wide stance squats: Feet are wider than shoulder length. Helpful for those with less ankle mobility. Works quads and glutes as well.
Barbell Squats: Most common form of squats done at the gym. Again can be split into Low Bar and High Bar squats depending on where the barbell is held. Fundamental compound movement.
Front Squats and Hack squats are further variations of the conventional squat targeting the different heads of the quadricep and add stability and strength to your squatting.
HOW TO PERFORM A BASIC SQUAT:
- Begin by warming up. Always. Do some stretches, high knees, get in the zone.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your spine neutral and your knees centered over your feet, not caving inward.
- Remember to breathe in as you lower your body and breathe out as you return to the start position. Keep the breath in your core and flex it.
- Slowly bend the knees, hips and ankles as you lower your body to reach a comfortable 90-degree angle. Imagine sitting back onto an invisible chair.
- Keep the core engaged as you return to the start position.
- Do 2-3 sets of 15 to begin with and incorporate the exercise into your workout plan.
We should always be aware of correct form and posture. Quality reps over Quantity can not help you reach your goal but also prevent you from injuries.
At phyt.health we take pride in helping athletes prevent injuries through our various prehab programs.