We are all aware of the benefits of this gem of an exercise but so many of us lack the flexibility to perform it correctly and then complain of how squats hurt our knees and lower back. It's not the squat causing these problems but an incorrect lifting technique, caused through inefficient mobility. We are all so eager to impress and bang the weight on the bar when really correct form should be addressed. Like any exercise, but probably more so the squat, precise execution is paramount due to the nature of this beast of a lift and the amount of weight which can possibly be moved.
Squatting is one exercise that requires ultimate flexibility. Ankle mobility, hip mobility, thoracic spine flexibilty, even our shoulders need the required flexibility to grasp hold of the bar balanced on our trapeziuos. So many of us would struggle to perform a perfect bodyweight squat with all our muscular imbalances so what gives us the right to add significant amounts of weight to a bar we lack the mobility to get under, let alone squat with.
Like the great man Gray Cook said; never add strength to a faulty movement pattern, address and correct and grease the groove before adding weight to any dysfunction, as adding more weight will only add to the imbalance then injury will surely follow. Although the majority of the squatting individuals will believe their form to be perfect, how many have actually watched and analysed themselves?
One of the common mistakes while squatting is not going low enough. Not squatting low enough known as a ‘half squat’ or, in some cases a ‘quarter squat’ – will seriously impact your leg development and leave you open to injury. There are a couple of reasons for this, one is putting far too much weight on the bar, nore than you can actually handle and the other being a serious mobility/flexibility issue.
Another problem technique is the rounded or hyper extending of the lower back; as with the deadlift, your back should never ever round. Rounding your lower back can put tremendous amounts of stress on your lower spine which becomes increasingly dangerous as you move to heavier weights. At the same time you don’t want to hyper-extend your lower back either, since this also puts pressure on your lumber spine and can cause lower back issues.
Instead of going to either extreme you should focus on keeping your lower back in a natural, yet strong position; neither rounding or hyper-extending it at any point. Another common mistake is the knees buckling in on the decent and when this happens it makes it considerably more challenging to maintain your balance let alone lift a lot of weight! This is corrected by turning the feet out, roughly 30 degrees. When you point your toes out, you should find it much easier to make your knees go outward, over your toes, as you bend down for the squat. This will greatly increase your stability and range of motion, making the entire movement safer and more effective. There are so many more squatting problems that are seen by the on looker, although the squatter themselves are usually oblivious to their poor technique.
Doing it wrong will lead to frustration and injuries, whereas taking the time to perfect it and fix any mistakes that you’re making will pay off massively in the long run. So you quarter squatters, take some of those plates off the bar, nail down proper technique and get your mobility in order. In other words, regress yourself to progress yourself; you all know who you are. Or you can choose to just continue on till the inevitable.
If you are willing to listen and get advice from an impartial onlooker who's not impressed by the mass of weight you are lifting incorrectly. Somebody who wants to help you with a safer and effective technique and retrain your faulty movement pattern then contact me. I may be able to offer you guidance into why your squat and muscular growth has stagnated.
When a squat is not a squat
As well as the deadlift one of the other most popular exercises seen in our gyms is the squat. Squatting is a fundamental human movement and utilitises (when performed correctly) nearly every major muscle group in our body. The squat is a full body compound exercise working us intensely from head to toe and is known throughout the fitness, powerlifting, strength training, bodybuilding individual, as the king of all exercises.