The squat, when done in accordance with the ancient lore of squat (or just done correctly), can assist you in building leg and core muscles that enhance overall strength. When you have upped the gear on overall strength, this can help you in the long run (and in a long run or ride too).
Due to the demand the squat places on your body, it is common to find yourself making a few misgivings.
If you are an endurance athlete then you may find your legs turning to jelly with the first hint of a squat, or, perhaps you are a regular weight trainer. Either or, the following squat guide can help to perfect your squat form – helping you get maximum benefit.
Performing a squat incorrectly could result in injury as well. So, without further ado, here is what you need to watch out for:
When squatting, it is super important to drop down low. Prepare yourself to go all in. So, ensure that you drop down until your hip joint is aligned with (or slightly below) your knee joint. If this is difficult, make 90 degrees your goal, following that aim to drop below that 90 mark!
Keep your head up!
Keep your gaze focus straight ahead – finding a point to lock your eyes on can help with this – and ensure that your head stays upright. Be proud, keep your chest lifted, your back straight like an arrow and your shoulders up and back. You will feel how easy it is easy for your back to stay straight once your head is lifted.
When the legs are fatigued the knees tend to cave in so as to relieve some of the pressure. When you feel this happening, consciously direct your awareness into your knees and roll them outwards instead. Use your toes as a marker – keep the knees and toes in alignment.
If your shoulders are rolled back then you can feel how easy it is for your back to remain in the perfect position. Just be aware of the feeling and if they begin to droop you will feel the integrity of your overall posture being compromised. Inhale, rolling them up and back.
It’s all about the lumbar curve. Bring your attention into your lower back. Now with focused intention, engage this area and roll your lower back slightly inward. You want it to be nicely curved and rounded. In order to keep it tight and tidy feel as if you are engaging your tailbone and begin lifting that towards the ceiling. The movement will be ever-so-slight however, it is just the right amount to be effective. If you are finding this difficult in the initial stages, keep from dropping too deep into your squat and practise this movement until you feel the connection is established and the movement feels natural.
Often the heels are the first to be compromised in the squat. Keep pressing them into the floor during your squat. Your injury risk is higher when you lift your heels because the torque on your lower back increases, compromising knees and it can also cause plantar fasciitis in your feet. Losing your balance during the squat? Rooting your toes and heels into the ground will help.
The unfinished squat…
You want to squat? Commit. Drop. Reach parallel. Drop lower. A squat isn’t a squat if it is left unfinished. It hurts? Well, here’s the thing – it’s kind of supposed to. Don’t make yourself suffer, be sensible – but rather do one proper, finished squat than ten half-attempts. If you are using weights than you can do a slightly shallower version of the squat. But remember to try the full squat at least once – if only to feel how the muscles are engaged if nothing else.
Right, now that all the nay-saying is out of the way let us see a bit on the ideal, utopian-version of the squat is done:
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your knees rolled apart.
- Roll your shoulders up to your ears and back, down away from your ears.
- Extend your arms out in front of you to enhance your balance.
- Press out your buttocks.
- Ensure that your chest is raised and your shoulders stay upright.
- Keep your awareness on your back- keep that straight feeling!
- Drop down and keep your heels on the ground to help you keep your balance.