We’ve heard a thousand times that the squat is the “King of All Exercises.” This gets redundant after a while, but there are myriad reasons why it’s stayed on top for so long. The squat really does reign supreme.
Squatting is a popular exercise that targets the muscles in the legs, lower back, and core. It can help people strengthen their muscles and burn fat.
With that said, here are some helpful tips on squatting:
- Your eyes should be focused. Some people believe you should look straight up when you squat. These people aren’t good to listen to. Your eyes should be directed straight ahead or just slightly downward. Don’t take your eyes off the point you choose. Pick something, and stare at it intently. Even if there’s movement and distractions around this point, they shouldn’t stop your stare. This is how focused you have to be.
- Proper bar placement depends on your body type and what’s most comfortable to you. Some people have shoulder problems and can’t carry the bar very low. Others just plain suck at high bar squatting. Place the bar where it allows you to reach depth with good form. It’s just that easy.
- Keep your elbows down and try to force them under the bar. This will cause your hips to drive first out of the bottom of the squat. It’ll also keep your chest high and prevent you from squatting with your legs first instead of your back. The first thing to shoot up with many people is their ass. Remedy this by pushing with your hips and keeping your elbows under the bar – or at least trying to.
- Descend until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the ground. Go deeper if you’d like, but this is the minimum depth you should shoot for.
- When you begin your descent, push your knees out to the sides and your glutes back.
- Arch your upper back hard for the entire lift. This will cause your lower back to arch, too.
- Grip the bar with the narrowest grip you can manage without hurting your shoulders. This will ensure that you remain tight throughout the lift.
- Once you hit parallel, drive your elbows under the bar and explode up.
- Before you take the bar out of the rack, fill your diaphragm with air, place the bar on your back, then confidently push it out of the rack with your back and legs. Don’t “wimp” the bar out. I like to do this with a large breath, which I won’t let out until I’m in my stance.
- Any more than two or three steps back is a waste of time and energy. Be efficient. I mentally count, “One, Two” when taking the bar out to make sure that I take only two steps out of the rack.
- Squeeze the bar hard during the lift. This will keep your entire body tight.
- Before the descent, take another breath and go. Keep this air in until you’re about 2/3 of the way back up. Then you can let it out. I’ve taught myself to hold my breath for 3 reps, but this is very difficult and I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone.
- Bouncing out of the bottom position (the “hole”) is not a bad thing. Losing your air and tightness when you do so is. Don’t do that.
- Your descent should be slow enough to permit you to maintain good form, but it should be fast enough to not waste energy or kill the stretch reflex at the bottom. Many lifters will “dive bomb” their squats. This is a fancy term for dropping very quickly and almost catching the bar in the bottom position before squatting back up. This is okay for advanced lifters who know their bodies and have great technique, but it’s probably unacceptable for about 99% of the rest of the population.
- Your toes should be pointed out at about a 30-45 degree angle. This will allow your knees to track correctly.
The above helpful helpful tips on squatting will help performing a squat without sustaining any injury.