The Squat. It’s a classic move in weight lifting and beyond. It’s vital that you learn how to squat with the proper form, since it’s a compound movement used both in lifting and in general working out. There are many different kinds of squat too, such as the barbell squat, goblet squat, bodyweight squat, and a ton of other squat variations.
If you don’t know how to squat correctly then there’s a chance that you may end up injuring yourself, which won’t be helpful for the sake of your training. As a result, we’re here to teach you how to squat. Here’s everything that you need to know!
All You Need to Know About the Squat
Whether you’re a gym bunny or not, the squat is important to learn – especially the low bar squat. The low bar squat is vital since it uses a large amount of the muscles in your body – more than pretty much any other kind of squat that you may attempt in the gym.
To be specific, the low bar squat is important for working the muscles in your posterior chain. This is because the muscles in the posterior chain will cause the hips to extend, and this is important for all sorts of movements like pushing, pulling, jumping and various other kinds of movements.
It is important for improving the strength throughout your body – it’s not just an asset for getting a bigger booty ready for Summer!
One of the great things about the squat is that you can load it in tiny amounts using weights, whether with the barbell or with free weights like dumbbells or kettlebells.
Form is vital if you want to reap the benefits of the low bar squat, however. You will need to do the movement using a sufficient range of motion, ensuring that the creases of your hips drop just a little bit lower than the top of your knee. As such, the squat is vital for your strength.
How to Squat: Without a Barbell
You don’t learn to walk before you learn to crawl, so why should you start learning to squat with a barbell? If you don’t already know what you’re doing without weights, then the chances of you walking away from the movement without injuring yourself are slim.
The first thing that you need to do is stand with your feet positioned shoulder width apart. Then, turn your toes outwards. Not too much – around 30 degrees will do. Put your hands together as if you were in prayer, then slowly lower yourself down. Make sure that you keep your balance over the center of your foot.
There are a few things that you should focus on when you are trying to squat. First of all, reach back using your hips, bend over slightly and start to push the thighs apart. Look at the ground in front of you, around 5 to 6 feet away.
Having a point to focus on can help you to maintain the movement so that you don’t lose your balance. It will also help to ensure that your back is in a horizontal angle when you are slightly bent over, and it ensures that the neck stays in a neutral position.
You should essentially be thinking of the squat like a stretch. In theory, that’s exactly what it is!
Again, make sure that your elbows are pushed outwards into your knees – your knees should be facing in the same direction as your toes. Make sure that your eyes and chest are both down, and lower yourself to the right level.
Eventually, you will then need to rise once you have finished the movement. To do this, slowly bring your chest and hips back up at the same rate. Slowly rise back to a standing position – don’t rush it, as you don’t want to injure yourself.
Make sure that you are squatting with correct form, as this will help to ensure that you are working the muscles in your posterior chain – the glutes, adductors and hamstrings. These muscles are vital to your everyday function, so giving them a good workout is important!
Using the Barbell
When you have mastered the bodyweight squat, you may then wish to move on to a more challenging movement. It’s time to head over to the gym and set yourself up in front of a barbell and a rack!
There are a few ways for you to squat with a barbell, such as the front squat. Today however, we’re just going to be talking about the back squat. Here, you rest the barbell across the top of your shoulders behind your neck.
First though, you need to ensure that it’s positioned correctly on the rack. It should be positioned at around the height of your mid sternum. Grip the barbell in front of you, thumbless for now. You need to ensure that they are distanced far enough apart that your wrists will be straight.
You can do this by putting the heel of your palm up against the bar, and putting your fingers on the tip. Having the right grip is important, since it ensures that the bar doesn’t end up rolling down your back and injuring you.
Now that you have the right grip, you then need to walk underneath the bar, and place it just across your shoulders – it needs to be on the rear deltoid muscles. When your bar is in place, you then need to breathe deeply and stand.
The bar should now be on your back. Walk backwards a few steps, breathe deeply and put yourself in the stance we mentioned above for the bodyweight squat. Begin to squat, remembering to drive the thighs apart, and don’t stop at the bottom.
Only squat to the depth mentioned above, then make your way back up. You can do around 5 reps at first and repeat for a few sets, changing between other activities.
After a while you may begin to find that squatting with the bar alone isn’t enough. This is a good sign since it shows that you are making progress! At this point, you can add extra weight to the bar by using barbell plates.
Don’t pile loads of weight on at once, however. Start with small weights and see what your body can realistically handle. It may help to have someone nearby to ensure that you don’t injure yourself. Practice at the higher weight again for a while before moving on to a higher weight.
Looking for a more advanced variation? Take a look at the overhead squat, which requires significant mobility, stability, and coordination to perform correctly.
Things to Avoid
When you’re squatting, there are a few things that you should avoid doing. First, don’t hunch the back. Keep your back upright as you lower your body. Having the right posture can help to ensure that you are getting the most out of the movement.
Look straight ahead of you, making sure that your shoulders are relaxed and your chest is open. If you find that your hands are falling to your knees as you are squatting, it’s a good indication that your posture is incorrect.
When you are practicing, you may even find it helpful to hold an item up against your chest. If you have a dumbbell, for instance, you will find that the bottom of it begins to move far away from your chest when you are lowering down if the form is incorrect.
You can also hold onto a door frame or something to help you to keep your form.
You should also avoid lifting the heels off the floor. Your heels should be firmly planted on the floor, don’t allow them to rise! You aren’t activating your muscles if your heels are lifting off the floor.