I spend the majority of my time each day in the gym training my clients and tend to observe a lot of people performing exercises with poor form, occasionally to the point that I am worried some will result in injury. This gave me the idea for this week’s column: how to perform a squat with proper form to decrease potential for injury and maximize results. A squat is a basic fundamental human movement and is an essential part of any strength training program. Squats can be performed with many different pieces of equipment or no equipment at all; however, in the end no matter what equipment you use, every squat comes down to similar form and principles.
Squat form checklist:
1. Begin with a light warm-up of dynamic stretching and a short bout of light cardio
2. Stand with feet about shoulder width apart
3. Try to keep your feet straight and parallel, but if you have to turn them outwards slightly that’s OK also (no more than 15 degrees).
4. With arms straight out in front at shoulder height, begin the descent by bending the knees, sticking out your bum, and leaning forward at the waist. Pretend you are sitting back in an imaginary chair and ensure your knees remain behind your toes the entire time. Sticking out your chest and looking straight ahead will also help to maintain a neutral back as you perform the descent.
5. Your back should remain neutral throughout the motion. Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor or to the point where you can no longer maintain a flat back.
6. Press through your heels to return to standing and repeat for desired number of reps.
– Begin by performing body weight squats with no additional weight until you are comfortable with the proper form.
– Have someone watch you from the side or use a mirror to ensure you are maintaining a neutral back and your knees are not passing over your toes.
– If you are not able to go down low enough to get your thighs parallel to the floor before losing a neutral back do not worry or force it. This could be due to lack of strength or muscle imbalances. Remain in your comfortable range of motion and this will eventually get better with practice and supplementary stretching.
Email Michelle@core-condition.com for more assistance in perfecting your squat form and technique.
Michelle Roots BA Kin, CSCS, PES