Man performing a back squat

The Squat, King of Exercises

The squat is one of the best if not the best exercises to perform, especially if you know how to do them correctly. The squat is great for gaining strength but make sure that you are not performing these 3 common squat mistakes and take your squatting ability to new heights or depths to be more accurate. The most important part of squatting is your form. For many people this means decreasing the weight to perfect their form, in many cases you should switch to squatting with only the bar to really nail your form before adding weight. After all, one repeated squatting mistake or wrong move can hinder consistent progress in the gym, or worse, cause serious damage to your spine preventing this should be extremely important unless you want to be injured?

You should be performing your squats in a power rack set with safety bars to help reduce your chance of injuring yourself. This is what power racks were designed for not curling or other sissy lifts. so If your using the power rack for isolation exercises its best you get out of the way and let some lifters use the proper equipment that they need to help prevent injury.

So lets go through the most common errors people make while performing squats and hopefully we can save you from visiting you chiropractor and being bed ridden for a few days.

Mistake 1 - Not Taking Time to Set Up Properly

If your not setup properly to perform this lift you have already set yourself up to fail. Many people just get under the bar by putting the bar directly behind their head and place it right on their spine. This is why many fail to make any significant progress, or more to the point, end up injured. Taking time to properly set up will provide more stability for the spine, keep the body "tight," prevent and limit energy leaks, and result in more total weight lifted down the road.

  • 1) When approaching the bar, duck underneath and be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together hard. A good que is to push your chest out this will naturally make you squeeze your shoulder blades. This will provide you with a shelf for the bar to sit on instead of it sitting on your spine.
  • 2) Grab the bar as hard as you can while simultaneously pulling down. This will help to activate the lats and thoracolumbar fascia helping with spinal stabilization.
  • 3) Take a deep breath, unload the bar, and take a step back and that's it. You're now ready to perform squats
  • 4) Know take another deep breath, pull down on the bar to secure it into position, point your elbows toward the floor, keep your chin tucked and begin your descent.

Mistake 2 - Not Going to Proper Depth

This is arguably the most common mistake of all. If you don't suffer from past or present significant injuries or dysfunctions there's no excuse not to squat to at least 90 degrees. If you do suffer from any problems it is important to consult a qualified professional for the type of exercises you should and should not be performing. Squatting to 90 degrees is achieved when the front surface of the thigh goes below the knee joint. Very few people you watch in the gym will perform the exercise with proper depth. Many people will brag about the amount of weight they can squat but when you see them squat you notice that they are only performing quarter squats. Know if your not looking to become a professional sprinter full squats are what you should be doing and if you do want to be a sprinter quarter squats actually make a lot of sense since it activates the same muscles as sprinting (Quadriceps).

This is where box squats really stand out. By using the box squat method you will be forced to go to proper depth and what that feels like to your body. But be prepared since it is almost always much lower then people think and you may activate parts of your leg muscles that have not been conditioned prior so start with a lite weight. Know no guy likes having to take weight off the bar but trust me the gains you will see from proper squatting are more than worth it.

Box squatting will also help you to learn the hip hinge pattern. What is the hip hing pattern well that’s when you sit back while pushing the knees out. The benefits of performing squats with the hip hinge pattern is that the glutes and hamstrings are more involved in performing the lift this will allow you to push much heavier loads.

Mistake 3 - Knees buckle inward

When your knees buckle inward your stance phase is prolonged (knee buckling is slowing you down) and sets you up for knee injuries including an ACL tear. The most common reason for the knees to buckle is because of a weak Vastus medialis oblique. This is what helps your kneecap not to buckle by providing stabliization. The best way to help prevent this is by keeping a steady and constant force through the lateral (outside) heel. This is most important when you start coming down into the squat and lifting out. This one action will automatically activate your stabilizing muscles for the lateral hip, and align the knee properly.

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