Whilst squats are one of the basic human movements however, many of us are unable to do a safe effective squat. The squat targets the muscles of the legs, lower back and also the upper back. It is commonly thought of as only a leg exercise however to perform a squat correctly with weight you will have to use almost every muscle in your body to keep as tight as possible.
How do we do a safe effective squat? Let’s run through the teaching points:
– Feet shoulder width apart (we can change foot positions when we have mastered the basics).
– Keep your torso as upright, you will have a slight forward lean but remember to keep your chest as high as possible.
– Weight kept between heal and the mid-foot. This will allow you to have better balance therefore, more stability to generate greater force in the squat.
– Strong Lumbar (arch in the lower back- push bum backwards)..
– Keep your head in a neutral position (look straight ahead, not up to the ceiling or down towards the floor).
– As you descend make sure that you don’t allow your knees to go forwards over your toes. Try to keep your feet pointing forwards whilst statically twisting your feet outwards when performing the squat. This will help to generate more torque (to help you lift more weight and achieve safer positioning) and it will also send your knees outwards in stead of forwards. This takes pressure off of the knees and will engage the glutes and the abductors on the outside of the legs. The more muscles you use the easier the squat will be to perform.
– Make sure that you squat as deep as you possibly can (ideally you are aiming for the crease of your hip to be below the top of your knee) but remember that doing squats is better than not doing them so even if you can’t go deep to start with, you can work on it over time…
These are the basic teaching points of the squat. There are other technicalities when it comes to lifting heavy and doing endurance sets but I will save those for another article. Until then, stay strong & stay fit.
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Ben Cooper, Director – Red Level Fitness