Squats are one of those exercises that we love to hate. But we have been squatting all of our lives, since we were babies. This is because the squat is one of the most fundamental exercises that we perform each and every day. But despite the pain they can put you through; they can do wonders for your body.
- Stronger, leaner legs
- Better fitting clothes
- Less chance of knee and back pain
- Greater lower body flexibility
- Bulletproof abs
Each day squats can make us better as they can serve as the engine for our health and performance, due to their unparalleled ability to build muscle, increase metabolism and making your body a fat-burning machine. But the correct technique for performing squats is paramount, and when done correctly can help us achieve wondrous things.
Otherwise we can be at serious risk of injury if we are not performing a proper squat. However, all too often, there some common mistakes that are made whilst squatting, that if we can eradicate, will help us in the long run in terms of health and fitness.
Despite squatting being a very basic movement, beginners can be susceptible to a handful of mistakes. Let’s quickly go through what these common mistakes are:
Coming Up On Your Toes With Your Knees Forward (Right Image)
When squatting, it is very important that the weight is kept in the heels, and heels are kept on the ground at all times. Some of your weight will be on the balls of your feet, but we need to make sure that most of the weight is transferred to the heels.
To bring ourselves up we need to drive through our heels, this also helps to keep the action being muscular and reduces the pressure and load in the knees. This will help to reduce any knee pains and injuries, as the muscles around the knee will get stronger without lots of pressure being placed on the knees at the same time.
A good indicator of having your weight in your heels is if you are able to wiggle your toes at any point and nothing about your squat changes.
Not Hitting Depth
When squatting it is important to ensure that you hit the correct depth, where your hip joint is below your knee. This will not only help to maximise the work done by the muscles involved in the squat, but also will help relieve a lot of the stress that is placed on the knees and quadriceps that occurs when correct depth is not managed.
The deeper the squat the more the glutes and hamstrings are activated, which means that more muscles are worked more effectively during a deeper squat and will help to bring about more shapely legs.
Having A Rounded Back and Slumped Shoulders (Left Image)
Throughout the whole duration of a squat it is vitally important to keep your chest up and shoulders back. We want to avoid having our shoulders rounded, as this takes our backs out of a neutral position and can eventually cause some significant back problems if continue squatting in this position, especially if we begin to add weight and further pressure on our backs.
How To Perform A Squat Correctly
Setting up for a squat is dead simple.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width, with toes pointed out slightly (~5-20°).
- Look straight ahead and focus on a point in front of you for the whole duration of the squat.
- Keep your back nice and straight, so don’t round the back or try and hyper-extend. This is helped by looking straight ahead and keeping your core tight the whole time.
- As you descend, focus on keeping the weight in your heels. This can be done by initially curling your toes up which will force the weight in to your heels.
- Now, breathe in, push your bottom back, and keeping pushing your bottom back as you begin to bend your knees.
- As you squat, focus on keeping your knees in line with your toes and try not to let them fall inside your toes.
- Try and descend down until your hip joint is lower than your knee joint. Don’t cheat yourself, go way down and really feel it.
- This is where we begin to stand back up.
- Keep everything tight, drive through your heels and breathe out as you bring yourself up.
There you have it!
An easy guide of how to perform the perfect bodyweight squat. If you still struggle just have a look at this expert below and copy him.