Squats, there are a load of variations of this exercise but today I just want to focus on the main compound movement and how you can improve your technique stripping it right back to basics. Even though it is predominantly a leg exercise you do work your whole body when performing it. It is a compound lift which means it involves more than one muscle group and if you are looking to build muscle, improve your core strength and functionality you should add these into your workout.
As mentioned the functional benefits of doing a squat with correct form are great as you will be able to bring it into everyday life as we squat every time we sit down or lower to the ground. Your balance and co ordination will also be improved so don't ignore the squats :)
On to the technique ...
Before you even think about putting a bar on your back you want to get the form of the squat down first. Going right back to basics, find a box / chair / step and sit down. From there make sure your feet are planted on the ground with them just wider than your hips. Engage the core and keep your back straight.
Then think about pushing up from your heels squeezing your glutes and engaging your hamstrings and quads as you rise to standing. Don't use your hands to help push you up. To finish think about tucking the pelvis and squeeze the glutes.
Next step - still using the box but you are going to start from a standing position in front of the box. Start by pushing the bum back and hinging from the hip as you bend the legs to lower yourself down to the box. You want to just touch or be just above it before you begin the journey back up. A tip to remember is that you want to bum to lead the movement not the knees - try to keep them behind the toes. Use the techniques from the first variations when performing this squat the difference is you don't sit down. Constantly keep the weight in the centre of your feet - no rocking onto the toes or heels.
At this stage you could add a lighter barbell onto your back if you can get it on or hold a Dumbbell in your hands in a goblet position. Both good weights and mid stage before you progress to the bigger bar at the rack.
The first thing is to get the position of the bar - making sure it is resting on the meaty part of your shoulders and not your neck or too low down. Make sure before you add the weight to the bar get some warm up sets with just the bar for the feel of it. Then set yourself in the start position of feet wider than hips weight even across the feet and core engaged,
And then as with everything else the movement is the same you just have more of a load on the back. Push back with the bum, keeping the chest up as you bend the knees and lower to the ground. Your depth will be based on the mobility in your hips but you want to get to parallel without your pelvis tucking under. Always keeping control of the movement squeezing the glutes at the top and the bottom drive up through the feet as you rise bring the quads and hamstrings into play. The knees should always track behind the feet and stay in alignment to avoid any kind of injury. If you feel the knees knocking in as you rise then take the exercise back to basics and nail that form.
As with any exercise don't let ego get in the way and remember form is key not how heavy you lift. If you squat a heavy weight with bad form you are just asking for injury as well as not working your muscles correctly.
I hope this has been informative and you are all now going to be squatting away in your training :) I am thinking of this becoming a regular thinking on my blog so if this is something you like please let me know in the comments below !
Happy lifting ladies, love Vicki xxx
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