If you’ve ever been to the gym, squats are the common denominator when it comes to leg exercises! However squatting well is a different story. I have seen many examples of poor squat technique for a number of different reasons. Squatting well demands a combination of:
Before we discuss ways to improve your squat let’s define what good looks like.
Depth is important as we want to put our muscles through a full range of motion. The hip crease should be parallel to the knee or below. Quarter squats aren’t going to give you the results you want, e.g a nice bum or stronger legs!
2. Torso Position
This will vary depending on the style of squat. However the common theme is maintaining a neutral spinal position. Extension in our lumbar and arched through our thoracic. You have to be able to maintain it throughout the full range of the squat.
They should track over our toes ideally. At max effort there might be some turn in (valgus), however we want to maintain our knees out over our toes as best we can.
1. Pole Squats – Great variation to help build balance in the squat position. Hold the pole with your hands, tighten your torso. Sit your pelvis back and sit into the squat. Knees should come forward over our toes. Keep this as close to an ideal position. Most people tend to sit too far back and not push their knees forward. Control the descent down, keep the balance through your whole foot.
2. Counter balance squat – The change to this variation is you now will be holding a light Dumbbell or plate out in front of you, rather than the pole. Tighten your torso again and push your pelvis back and knees out over your toes. Control the descent down, keep the balance through your whole foot.
3. Box Squat – No weight this time or balance. Instead you are going to the same squat and touch your bum to the bench. Once again control the descent. This can help build confidence to hit a full range of motion and remove the fear of falling over.
1. Ankles – Place your foot 1″ from the wall. Kneel down into a lunge position. Push your knee forward over your toes and attempt to touch the wall. If you can, shift your foot back another 1″ from the wall. Do 10-15 on each leg.
2. Hips – Spiderman lunges are awesome! In a lunge position, lean down and place your hands on the inside of your feet. Keep your toe up at the back and drop your hips to the floor. Alternate feet and do 10 each leg.
1. Tempo Squats – Tempo work is fantastic (I love to hate them :). For squats a slow downwards (eccentric) movement will help build strength in the legs. Start with a 3-5s tempo. It will also build balance in the position.
2. Pause Squats – Pausing will also help strengthen your legs! Stop at the bottom of the squat and stay tight (tight through your torso, knees out with tension on!). 3s pause is a great starting point. Keep the weight and reps fairly low to start off with (3-5 reps)
So now the question is how can we apply these in practice! Do you drills every time you are in the gym. A simple program could look like this:
– 1×10 Ankle Mobility Drills
– 1×10 Spiderman Lunges
– 2×10 Pole Squats
– 2×5 Tempo Counterbalance Squats
Remember perfect practice makes perfect. So if you are stuck with either knee pain, or short range of motion, work on it! Come and see me and I can help! It will pay off to your numbers and movement later on!