What are squats?
Squats are a compound exercise movement that primarily work the muscles of the legs but also work muscles throughout the entire body. Squats are a highly functional exercise to perform as they essentially replicate the everyday movements of sitting down and standing up, and therefore help to maintain strength and mobility in the lower body.
- Powerful muscle size and strength builde
- Functional movement used in everyday life
- Improve core strength
- Boost vertical jump and explosive leg power
- Increase mobility and flexibility
- Enhance sprinting speed
- Reduce injury risk through strengthening connective tissues, ligaments and stabilisers
Main Muscles Worked
Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Spinal Erectors, Abdominals, Obliques
Technique (Back Squat)
- Unrack and place bar on upper back, just under base of neck. Squeeze shoulder blades back and down to help hold bar in place.
- Inhale in as you squat down, pushing hips back as if you were going to sit on a chair, engaging abdominals and pointing and knees slightly outwards as you squat, maintaining a neutral spine.
- If your mobility allows, squat down until hips are below knees.
- Exhale as you stand, think about driving your heels into the floor, keeping chest up and knees out. Lock hips and knees at top.
Common errors and how to remedy these
Knees caving in – If you allow your knees to cave in when squatting this may cause the knee joints to twist and lead to injury and pain.
Remedy – Focus on pushing your knees out when you squat down and up. If you find it difficult to feel if you are pushing your knees out try trying a resistance band around your thighs just above the knees and this will cue you to push your knees out against the band as you squat (and you should feel those glutes burrrn!)
Rounding lower back – If you allow the lower back to round whilst squatting this can compress the spinal discs and potentially lead to a disc herniation. If you find your lower back rounding, check your bar positioning. If the bar is too high and moving up your neck when squatting this can cause the lower back to round.
Remedy – Try drawing your elbows down and pulling the bar hard across your upper back to keep your back in a stronger position. Another thing to watch for is when you stand back up from the squat – to avoid rounding the lower back try pushing back against the bar as you stand, this will help keep your torso straight rather than tipping too far forward as you stand.
Squatting shallowly – When you perform shallow squats you are missing out on a full range of motion which means less work for your leg muscles. The most common reason we often see for this is going too heavy too soon. So before you think about loading up the bar with more weight, ensure you have good form and are getting a full range of motion – grab one of the trainers to check! Other reasons for not getting full depth in squats could be old injuries causing restriction, weak core muscles or tight muscles such as hips, hamstrings or calves. If any of these apply to you again it is best to get these addressed first. It is important to be able to perform a body weight squat with good form at depth before loading up with weights.
We are in full swing of squat month at Beyond and we have our members working on their individual squat goals. Have you thought about how you could improve yours?