Optimize your squat in 4 minutes | Squat Tutorial and How-To Guide
Movement #4 in the 6 foundational movement series is the Squat.
Although there are many different variations to the squat we’re going over the traditional squat itself.
Now, like many movements we have talked about in this series, there are common mistakes and faults when performing the Squat. But first, lets go over proper positioning, movement and breathing.
Starting position :
Standing tall with feet slightly wider than shoulder width
Knees bent about 90 degrees (or more)
Eyes facing forward
Arms out in front for counter balance
Smooth descend of body into bottom position and strong steady rising to the starting position. I like to teach this movement as pull and push.
First pull yourself down to the bottom position instead of falling or letting gravity take over. This builds better control and transfer of force. At the bottom position , you initiate the rise by pushing both feet into the ground and stand tall at the top.
Inhale for the descend and exhale on the rising
Next, lets go over the common mistakes that occur in the Squat and cues to help you address them :
Hyperextension of lower back
This is where you create an arch in your lower back. This can happen in the beginning to initiate the movement or at the bottom position. This compensation causes compression in the lumbar spine and can lead to discomfort and further compensations.
To help maintain better pelvic alignment and core integration , I like to teach positional awareness of the pelvis with the A-B-C drill and find a strong middle position or neutral position.
Position A: neutral to anterior pelvic tilt
Position B: Neutral
Position C: neutral to posterior tilt
Standing tall, isolate your pelvis and move from Position A , Position C, and Position B. This drill works on building awareness of your pelvis positioning in space. Typically in hyperextension we are stuck in Position A. For optimal performance I find its better to hold Position B to through the movement and allow the core to maintain dynamic stability
Knee Valgus (Caving in of the knees) or shifting of hips
This can occur either because coordination is poor, strength is low, or the load (weight) is too much. Your lower body does not have the capacity to maintain good alignment between ankle, knee, and hip leading to this compensation. Most often its a coordination issue and a simple cue can do the trick.
In this case, we want to emphasize the lateral chain of muscle of the body. To do this, you want to initiate force into the ground and out to the bottom of your feet without moving.
Think of it as if you're standing on a platform full of glue and your feet are stuck, and you want to spread your feet away from each other.
This force triggers an activation on the outer part of your legs from ankle to hip improving stability and control within the squat.
Holding of breath throughout the movement
Similar to how I have explained breathing in my previous videos…
It's important not only for fluid movement and control, but breathing helps to ensure oxygen exchange during your training which improves overall endurance.
With most movements, exhalation occurs during the concentric phase , in this case it will be on the way up in the squat. Therefore, I like to teach to inhale on the descent and exhale on the rise.