Riverside Fitness Studio
|Posted on 5 September, 2016 at 10:55|
Today I am looking to shed some light on one of the most well known lower body exercises known. This exercise has been referred to as: the King of all exercises. And with good reason. The squat is a movement that the human starts to encorporate in its life as an infant. There is often a lot of controversy over the squat these days. I find people come to me saying things like: Isn't squatting bad for my knees? Will my back get hurt from squatting? And I am here to tell you that if you squat correctly, it can be one of the most safe, effective exercises in building muscle, burning fat, and increasing endurance!
In effort to help everyone to encorporate the squat into their exercise routine, I will go over some of the most common squatting mistakes and how to correct them.
1. Knees coming forward
The first, and most common squatting error that I have seen is that people squat by bending their knees forward to descend to the bottom position. The general rule of thumb is: Do not, for any reason, allow your knees to bend forward passed your toes. If you think about sitting back to an imaginary box behind you ("reaching back" with your hips and glutes), then your knees will not extend forward nearly as much. A good test to see how well you are squating is to stand facing a wall, with your toes an inch away from the wall and trying to squat. If your knees hit the wall, then they are coming forward too much and you should work on 'reaching back."
2. Rounding of the Back
Keeping the back from rounding is crucial to safely squat. Often when I am at the gym, I notice someone with too much weight on the bar, attemptng to squat, and their upper back ends up taking a question mark shape on the way up. This is not a good look for the spine. It places stress on the intervertebral discs, and drastically increases the chance of injury. The cue to help keep the spine from rounding over is to keep the chest up. If you are facing a mirror, you can think about leading with your head, making sure that you can see your chest, and keeping your abs tight. In other words: Chest up, core tight. These cues keep the spine neutral and it allows for some core strength to develop at the same time.
3. Breath Breath Breath
The squat is concidered a leg exercise by most, but if done properly, it should involve every muscle in your body. When I unrack the weight and step back into position, I activate my leg muscles, I brace my core, I pull the bar into my back to activate my back and shoulder muscles, and i crush the bar in my hands. Every muscle group is an active participant in the exercise, and they each play an important role in maximizing the efficiency of the squat. I call this: "zipping up." I zip up my body before i descend into my first squat rep. One of the most important aspects of zipping up is inhaling. The last thing that I do before squatting is filling my lungs with air. I hold that air for the full descent, and even as I hit depth and come back up. I do not exhale until I am nearly at the top of each rep, then I inhale again before descending another time. Holding your breath increase intra-abdominal pressure, which allows your core to get as invloved as possible, which in turn keeps your lower back from taking on too much of the load. Obviously, too much load on your lower back is a bad thing. Load on you core is a good thing.
These main squatting points are very important and are always helpful in keeping a safe, effective exercise from turning into an injury-prone, ineffective exercise. Squatting is a very important tool for my clients, and for myself. I aim for perfect reps. You should too.
Hope this helps!