There’s no doubt- the squat is one of the most foundational movements you have ever learned.
And if you’re thinking, “I’ve never squatted a day in my life,” you’re wrong. It was probably one of the first things you learned after you learned to stand as an infant. You were able to you’re your butt on the ground with feet flat and chest nice and tall. To this day, you still perform some type of variation of the squat on a daily basis. Getting into and out of a chair at the dinner table, picking up something on the ground while holding a child, getting on and off the toilet, hopefully… So there’s no question that this movement is a movement for life. The day you no don’t squat is a day closer to the day you can no longer squat. So let’s look at some things to consider when you are training the squat and see if your squat could use some improvement!
Here’s 5 things to consider:
For this example we will consider a standard air squat- all of these can be applied to other variations of a squat, also.
- Find your stable base
The squat is only as stable as the feet you are standing on. If you don’t have a sturdy base, the movement will be inefficient. Place your feet in a comfortable position with feet slightly outside of hip width. Toes should be pointed slightly out. Feet should have a firm hold of the ground. Think of a tripod- the weight of your body should be evenly dispersed between your big toe, pinky toe, and heel. Not too much weight on one or the other.
- Create tension in your trunk
The best way to stabilize your core and pelvis is to create pressure in your abdomen. How do you do that? Take a deep breath into your belly and squeeze on top of it like you were bracing for someone to punch you in the gut. That’s tension! This keeps your pelvis in a neutral position throughout the movement.
- Descend with your knees tracking outside of your toes
This is where many people fault in this movement. Take your hands and grab your butt.. that’s one of the biggest muscle groups on your body. You want them to help you during this movement. The only way they will do this is if you knees track outside of your toes and activate the gluteus medius. If the knees come in towards the midline on the descent or on the drive up, your glutes are only playing a minimal role in the movement. Also, when the knees track out, you will have better stability of your knees.
- Descend to your anatomical end range
Ideally, hip crease below knee crease is the “optimal end range.” But for some, that’s just not feasible with limited range of motion or mobility disfunction. You need to take your body to a depth that allows for optimal positioning. Ankle and hip mobility play an important role here. If you are not able to sit down in a position that allows you to be balanced with your feet and chest held high, there’s a great chance your ankles or hip capsule need some time with a mobility tool or practice.
- Drive up through the middle of the foot
When you stand up from the squat- think “push into the floor and drive your chest high.” Don’t misunderstand this for arching your lower back to drive up. If you still have tension in your trunk like mentioned in number 2, this won’t happen. Instead think, shoulders and hips rise together. Once you get to the top of your squat, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. This promotes great hip activation through the movement.
Your squat is one of your most crucial assets. Don’t let it disappear from your life. Instead, take these tips with you, get up off that chair you’re sitting on, and get to squatting correctly! Your life depends on it!