Three Form Checks To Improve Your Squat
The squat: a staple move that works your entire lower body and is one of our favorites for booty gains. Let’s start with the basics. Before you jump into any strength-training regimen, make sure you’ve mastered the basic squat. Then, you can progress by adding weight, adding explosiveness (such as a jump), or adding complexity (such as a burpee). Not only will this prevent injury, but a solid foundation of form will also help you get stronger and advance to more complex moves more quickly.
At Ascend, we really encourage our athletes to think about how a movement feels in addition to understanding the logistics of the movement. With that in mind, when I coach our Ascend Underground classes and my personal training clients, there are several cues and tips that I believe are helpful.
So the next time you’re about to drop that booty down low into a squat, remember these key tips:
Stand proud and place your feet hips width apart.
If you have trouble finding this position, pick up one foot and then the next and place down naturally. This is a quick way to find your squat position.
As you begin your squat, send your hips backwards like you are about to sit in a chair.
You should feel your hamstrings and glutes engage as your body weight shifts backwards and towards your heels.
Keep your chest up as you lower your hips into a full squat position.
At the bottom of your squat, notice* the following:
Do you feel stable? If I came over and gave you a nudge, would you fall over?
Are your feet flat on the ground?
Are your knees in line with your feet?
As you rise, think about pressing your feet through the floor until you are fully standing.
Think about both your quads and glutes during this part of the movement. Do not over-extend your hips at the top, but you should return to a full standing position to complete the move.
If you answered no to the questions above, here are a few points of consideration:
“I feel unstable.”
Check the width of your squat. Move your feet out a little wider and try again.
Are you bracing your core? Your abs and lower back are providing stability in this move.
“My feet are not flat.”
Check your form:
Are you leaning your chest forward in the squat?
Are your knees moving past your toes in the squat?
Are your calf muscles tight?
“My knees are traveling inwards. Or one knee is.”
Engage your abductors (the outer part of your thigh and glutes) to pull your knees back over your feet.
Think about pressing resistance outward with your legs at the bottom of the squat.
Keep these form checks in mind next time you hit the gym, and I’m sure you’ll feel a difference.