The squat is one of the most, if not the most, effective exercises you can do.
Squatting is one of the primal of movements. We squat when we sit, use the restroom, look under our kids beds for monsters, search for a missing baking pan in the bottom cabinet, etc…
You SHOULD be able to squat with ease, with no pain, and instinctively, however, years of sedentary living, poor exercise forms, lack of movement, and inhibited muscles your ability to squat has been significantly suppressed.
If you are looking to burn fat and build lean muscle, ideally you want to perform exercises that work A LOT of muscles, squats do that.
It’s time to UNLEASH your best squat ever.
I’m talking about LOW, it’s your duty to work your booty, squats.
I’m talking about “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend could squat like me SQUATS”
Ok, I think you get the idea.
For a COMPLETE visual and explanation watch the video below, if you want to skin through, ignore the video and read on:
Checkpoint #1: Head, Chest, and Shoulders
Problem: Common problems in checkpoint #1 are throwing the head back, while simultaneously looking up and rounding the shoulders. Allowing the head to roll back over the bar or in general is very traumatic to your cervical spine/neck. If you notice your shoulders rounding, you know you know you need to strengthen your upper back, stretch your chest muscles, and strengthen your core.
Solution: The FIRST thing you want to do when preparing for the squat is drive your shoulders back and down, whether you have a bar behind your back or not. Doing this drives your chest up (PROUD chest) and should align your head to facing straight ahead.
Cues I use for the squat are:
1.) Keep your shoulders back and down
2.) Drive your chest up towards the sky
3.) Keep your eyes and head straight ahead, even with your spine
Checkpoint #2: Hips
Problem: Because of anterior or posterior pelvic tilts, caused by muscle imbalances and prolonged bouts of sitting, the hips during the squat can inhibit squat progression and cause knee pain/damage.
Solution: The FIRST motion of your squat should be to drive your hips back like you are sitting on a chair that is really far behind you. Think of someone lassoing you at the hips and then pulling really hard. When you drive your hips back, you are setting the stage for driving your weight through your heels.
If you have significant problems keeping your hips from moving forward, you probably need to stretch your hip flexors and strengthen your hamstrings. In the meantime, focus on performing perfect squats by following the checkpoints outlined here.
Checkpoint #3: Lower Back, Core, Belly Button
Problem: Without engaging the core, the lower back is susceptible to injury.
Solution: As soon as you perform checkpoint #2 and drive your hips back, your belly button should drive in towards your spine. After this, your focus should go on engaging your core, by driving your belly button, hips back, and shoulders down and back.
As soon as you start adding weight to your squats, core engagement becomes even more important to efficiently work the muscles and prevent injury.
Checkpoint #4: Feet and Stance
Problem: Trying to keep your stance in the perfect position.
Solution: Understand that every squatters foot position is unique. MOST of the time you’ll end up with your feet slightly externally rotated out to the sides. Wherever your feet and stance ends up, following the rest of the checkpoints ensures that you will engage the correct muscles.
Checkpoint #5: Depth
Problem: Most women don’t go low enough on their squats causing either the exercise to be quad-dominant or inhibiting the glutes and hamstrings from engaging.
Solution: The easiest solution most trainers give is just to simply “go lower” which works sometimes, however, I you ignore the other checkpoints and you simply “go lower” you might be promoting an injury or poor movement.
If you can’t get below parallel to the ground (like the picture below) without compensating in some form or fashion (can’t follow checkpoints) then you need to hold on to something that will stabilize you while going lower.
Stabilization squats can be quite effective at firing up the ideal muscles and will allow you to progress faster to regular squats, then weighted squats, then squat jumps, etc…
Checkpoint #6: Drive
Problem: Lifting your heels off the ground when performing squat movement.
Solution: Keeping your weight through your heels for the entire duration of the squat movement is one of the most important aspects of the squat. Follow checkpoints 1-4 and you will 99% of the time be driving from the heels.
Why drive through the heels? Aside from protecting the knees, correct “drive” engages muscles (glutes and hamstrings) that many times are secondary to the quads.
Checkpoint #7: Breathing
Problem: Either holding of the breath or incorrect breathing patterns leading to lack of core activation.
Solution: The correct breathing for the squat ESPECIALLY with weight is INHALE through the nose on the way down, and EXHALE through the mouth on the way up.
Remember, it is massively important that you learn how to properly squat using the 7 Key Checkpoints before you begin incorporating squats into your workout routine.
This is one main reason I choose a specific style of presenting my workout program to you. Since the workouts are essentially LIVE with myself training YOU and the Fit Woman in the video I can correct her and you during the workout.
Eventually you’ll be able to knock out 25 squats with perfect form and THEN you can say: “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend could SQUAT like me” with confidence.
Your Online Transformation Coach