One of the best exercises for you, whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight (or both) HAS to be the squat. However, it’s also an exercise which we see nearly EVERYBODY does incorrectly. Squats are one of the staple exercises that everyone out there should be able to perform.
Nevertheless, even though squats may seem simple enough at times even the most basic movements are the trickiest to execute with perfect technique. From the outside a squat, it looks very easy. However, performing a squat correctly and – ensuring that you’re engaging the correct muscles as well as moving your body as you should – is in fact exceptionally complex.
What some people don’t get quite right with squats
There are several things which people don’t get quite right when it comes to squatting. We chatted to an expert fitness trainer who gave us the low-down:
Letting Your Knees Fall In
A mixture of wide hips as well as weak inner and outer thighs makes this squat mistake pretty common among women. Unfortunately, if your knees move in towards each other for the duration of a squat, this can put undue pressure on your knee ligaments and result in injury.
However, correcting this mistake isn’t as easy as willing your knees to remain in place. It is necessary to strengthen your inner and (particularly) your outer thighs. Lateral theraband walks are a great way to do just that. Here’s how to perform this exercise:
- Put a theraband around your lower legs. The resistance can be used closer to your knees if you want to make the movement easier. Alternatively, you can put the theraband around your ankles or feet if you want to carry out a more advanced movement.
- With the theraband in place, stand in an athletic standing position. Have your knees and hips slightly bent with your feet shoulder-width apart as well as the head and chest up. This will be the position in which you begin.
- Remaining low, take a slow, lateral step. Make sure that your toes are pointed forward and remain low. After finishing the step, follow with your opposite leg. Step slowly and resist the band. Keep the feet at least shoulder-width apart so as to maintain band tension.
- Continue to laterally step in this manner in order to complete the set for the desired number of repetitions before you switch to walk in the opposite direction.
Not Lowering Your Body to 90 Degrees
If you don’t finish the exercise through its full range of motion – in other words, all the way down until the point that your thighbone is parallel with the floor – you won’t fully engage your glutes and the upper part of your hamstrings.
With the squat, you want to get a shapely butt and if you don’t lower your body to 90 degrees you won’t achieve this aim. To train your body to complete the entire move, try practising some squats in front of a knee-high box or step. Lower your body until your butt just barely touches the box, and then push back up.
Arching Your Back
Your back naturally has a slight “S” to it. However, if you don’t have enough lower back strength —and many people don’t have this – it’s easy to add some extra arch when you perform your squats. The problem is that this movement dumps the weight into your lower back and means you risk injury. To shore up your lower-back strength, try performing the dumbbell straight-leg deadlift:
- Take hold of a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and hold them at arm’s length at the front part of your thighs.
- Stand with your feet being hip-width apart as well as your knees slightly bent.
- Brace your core throughout the movement.
- Without altering the bend of your knees, bend at your hips until your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
- Pause and then shoot your hips forward. Squeeze your glutes tightly to return to the starting position.
A squat is a compound, full-body exercise. This exercise works mainly the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks, quads, hamstrings in addition to strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons in the lower body.
The fabulous thing about squats is that these movements are more than just a way to exercise. These are a foundation for your overall strength and are fundamental to your ability to function well in daily life. Maintain proper form when performing a squat and listen to your body because if you feel any pain, do not proceed.
A qualified Personal Trainer will be able to assist you with this exercise so you can learn to perform this easily by yourself.