Throughout the fitness community, the squat has earned the title ‘King Of Exercises’ and anyone who squats regularly will tell you that this claim is well earned.
No other exercise hits your entire system as completely or intensely as the basic squat.
Sadly, many shy away from the squat due to either poor results or more commonly, frequent strains or injury.
In most cases, this is simply the result of poor form. Done incorrectly, the squat is very unforgiving.
Here’s several squat tips that will help you get your best results and minimize your chances of injury.
1. Lift, Don’t Push
Rather than trying to lift the bar, focus instead on ‘pushing’ your legs down into the ground. You’ll find this actually makes the lift ‘seem’ easier.
This approach also helps you maintain proper form with a straight back by thinking about your legs ‘pushing’ rather than your body ‘lifting’.
2. Knee Position
When lowering during the squat, your knees shouldn’t extend ahead any further than the end of your toes.
Over extending can cause extra stress on the knee joints. Practice with the bar only, watching your knees as you lower, ensuring they never pass the end of your toes.
3. Feet Angle
Angle your feet slightly outwards, the exact angle dictated by whatever feels most comfortable.
Whatever angle feels best for you, ensure that both feet angle out by the same amount. Feet angled differently places uneven stress on the knees and can lead to strain or injury.
4. Squat Depth
There’s been endless discussions on just how deep you should squat with no common agreement and probably never will be.
Some say you should never go below thighs parallel to the floor to minimise knee stress.
Others say deep squats are the only true way to completely hit the quads.
Don’t stick to just one depth, vary the depth of your squats regularly, find what works best for you that also doesn’t cause any aches or pains.
5. Back Angle
During the squat, ensure your back remains at a constant angle to your body during the squat.
You want the power to come from your quads (and hip flexors) not your back.
Altering the angle places extra load on the lower back.
6. Bar Placement
Place the bar across your traps as low as possible without feeling like the bar is about to slip off.
Having the bar lower, better places the weight over your hips and will help with balance.
Also, having the bar higher up means you’ll probably sit the bar on your top vertebra which can be painful and damaging.
7. Knee/Feet Position
Ensure that your knees remain vertically in line with your feet, not jutting out to the left or right. Having your knees ‘out of line’ with your feet can also place extra stress on your knee joints.
8. Squat Variations
There are several squat variations, including, back, front, sissy and roman. To maximise your growth and minimise stagnation, vary your choice of squat every several weeks.
Squats are undoubtedly one of the best compound exercises that work pretty much the entire muscle system.
Don’t let previous bad experience of aches and injuries result in you excluding this muscle blaster from your weekly routine.
Follow the tips above and re-introduce yourself to the ‘king of exercises’.