Time to read: 2 mins
The squat is one of the most popular gym-based exercises and for good reason! Squats are a whole body exercise, requiring strength, bracing and control throughout the entire kinetic chain.
Strength gains are one of the main reasons for including squats in your programme – particularly if you are looking to target glutes, quads or trunk bracing. The squat is also one of those exercises you often see people doing terribly in the gym, with bad form that makes you cringe.
Lets look at some of the most common errors, why its important to fix them, and most importantly, how!
1. Not Going Low Enough
Don’t get me wrong - there's a time and a place for a quarter squat. But if you want to get more muscle groups involved, depth is key. Getting the hips below the knee, or “breaking parallel” significantly increases the amount of glute activation and gets those hamstrings involved too, essentially giving you more benefits with one simple move.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of your squatting gains – some people seem to load up as heavy as possible then squat less than a quarter depth and think that is a decent squat. Unless you are specifically targeting the quarter squat, reduce the weight and get down lower – you can build that weight back up in your new range over time.
2. Too Much Forward Lean
When we lean forward excessively in a squat like the picture above, we significantly increase the shearing forces on the lumbar spine. Over time, this can cause back issues which we want to avoid.
Excessive forward lean can be caused by many factors, most commonly however it is due to lack to range at the ankle or hip, or just simple incorrect movement patterning.
Video your squat or get someone to watch you – if at any point your chest starts to point to the floor, you are doing an excessive forward lean.
To correct this, add some hip and ankle mobility into your weekly schedule and make a conscious effort to maintain a “chest out” posture on both the descent and ascent of your squat.
3. Knees Collapsing Inwards
More common in females due to skeletal structure, this is another common error which can lead to injury. The knees will be seen to fall inwards, losing alignment with the feet on the descent of the squat. This falling inwards is most often due to a lack of glute strength and control, and can also be exacerbated by restricted ankle movement.
A simple correction can be to add a resistance band round the knees whilst the squat is performed. Aim to push into the band as you descend into the squat, forcing the glutes to kick into action and maintaining that alignment of the knees with the feet. This movement with the band can be practiced both unloaded and with load.
Add some ankle mobility into your schedule as well, and you should be well on the way to having a much more robust and safe squat!
Happy squatting ya'll!