You’ve heard it often in the fitness industry that squats grow the booty. Although it is a misconception, because squats are actually a compound exercise, that targets quads, hamstrings, core, and glutes, therefore they are not predominantly responsible for growing the booty, they are a staple to any training. Aside from growing the size of your legs, knowing how to properly squat is beneficial for your every day activities as well: picking up something on the floor, lifting a box, etc. Knowing how to properly squat can help lower your chances of injuries, and we’re all here for that.
There is a saying we follow at Astrofit and it’s that: if you can’t do a bodyweight squat properly, you shouldn’t be adding weight to your exercise. Squatting is a staple in all our trainings, and we spend a lot of time fixing the squat stance for a lot of our clients. It’s what we first look at when someone walks into our gyms and sits down. The simple movement of sitting on a chair can say a lot about how someone squats. Creepy? Maybe. Helpful? Very.
Over the years, we’ve realized that there are some recurring mistakes people make when squatting. We’re going to look at the most common ones in this post, and we’re going to go through the process of fixing it so that your squat can be near perfect.
Squat Mistake #1: Lifting the heels
When squatting, full muscle contraction is most important. It’s a compound movement, remember, therefore your entire body needs to be stable enough to contract all the important muscle groups. This means, distributing the bodyweight towards the back of your feet rather than the front. If your squat looks like the picture on the left, your chances of injury increase exponentially.
To fix it: properly hip hinge (push your hips back and transfer your bodyweight to your heels) and anchor your heels to the floor to improve stability. Lower yourself to a squat, while keeping your weight properly distributed on your feet. Drive through your heels to get back up.
Helpful tip: if you’re having a hard time properly squatting with your weight shifted to the back of your feet, use a chair or box to sit back on as you practice proper posterior chain engagement.
Squat Mistake #2: Knees caving in
This is a common squat mistake for beginner athletes. When your knees go inward during a squat, this is due to lack of glute strength and/or activation. What’s dangerous about this squat stance is that, over time, it can create tension around the knees as well as pain in the lower back. Again, stability is everything when it comes to squatting; to have good stability, you need to engage all the right muscle groups.
To fix it: distribute your bodyweight to the outer part of your feet and consciously push your knees out as you’re squatting. Following the tips from above, your weight should be distributed to the outside and the back of your feet as you’re squatting.
Helpful tip: strengthen your outer glutes with a resistance band. Sit on the edge of a chair or bench with your feet together and a resistance band around your thighs (right above the knees). Push your feet together as you push your knees apart. Repeat 3-4 times for 20-25 reps.
Squat Mistake #3: Body crumbling
Squat Mistake #4: Bending over too much
Last but not least, we have the bent over squat, also known as the quarter squat. Without proper squat depth, getting all the benefits that comes with squatting is near impossible, so you want to make sure you’re going at least below parallel when squatting. With this squat, the tension is mostly held in the lower back, instead of the legs, which can create a lot of problems long term. Adding weight to this squat is not recommended, as a heavy barbell resting on the traps in this position can pull a muscle in the lower back very quickly.
To fix it: squat while facing the wall, keeping a 6 inch distance from the wall. As you squat, your shoulders, arms, and face should not touch the wall. Push your body back, use a box or chair for support if needed, and squat while consciously contracting your core and keeping your shoulders back as you squat down.
Helpful tip: keep your arms behind your back as you squat, to ensure that your torso remains straight as you go down in a squat position. Hold your hands behind your back, pull your scaps together, and squat.
In this video, you can see the athlete doing a proper squat, following all the tips mentioned above.
The chin is tucked in, looking down and forward.
The knees are pushing out.
The weight is evenly distributed to the side and back of the feet.
The back is straight.
The core is engaged.
There is a lot to take into consideration when squatting, from the way you position your feet to where you should look; squatting isn’t the easiest of movements. The benefits that come from properly squatting will make a world’s difference in your progress physically as well as athletically. Follow the advice we’ve laid out herein, and you’ll be on your way to getting all the leg gains from one of our favorite compound movements!