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4 Steps To A Perfect Squat

How to do a squat
How To Do A Squat

Yeah buddy...squats. Whether it be body weight or with a loaded up barbell, squats are an amazing tool in your belt for building your fitness. Even if you hate them, you know they are extremely beneficial. Personally I believe a lot of us are missing some key components when executing squats which then leads to knee pain, back pain, or whatever pain. Consequently, we then write squats off as a negative exercise and don't revisit them. I do realize that there are some cases where this is absolutely legitimate (past injuries, current injuries, etc.) but this is for your readers out there who need to take a look at these 4 steps and give it another go around! I'm about to geek out here, this is my strength coaching side coming out, but along with the in depth look into what's going on during these 4 steps of a perfect squat, I will also list a summary under each step for a quick application. All aboard...the squat train is about to take off...


There is a time for narrow and wide stance squats, but I am speaking to a foundational form of squats and a great starting point, so here we go: Pick a comfortable foot width. Not to narrow, not to wide, but a comfortable athletic or ready to be active width. Typically this puts the average person with their feet at shoulder width or slightly wider than shoulder width. Once that is establish we need to set the feet correctly. A good position to have them is pointing slightly out. So your toes shouldn't be pointing straight ahead, or pointing drastically out, but slightly pointing out is the bread and butter spot. From here establish a straight back by making a tall big chest and looking straight ahead or up with your eyes.

*SUMMARY: Feet shoulder width or slight wider, feet pointed slightly out, straight back, big chest, and look straight ahead or up.

STEP 2: HOW TO GO DOWN (Eccentric Phase)

How you start the decent will determine whether or not the squat is done correctly. If you start wrong...your can't really recover to correct form...not trying to be dramatic here, but its the truth. Once the stance is set and your ready to go down, you need to shift your weight into your heels or mid foot, and start your decent by moving your hips back, not your knees forward. Once again, HIPS BACK, NOT KNEES FORWARD. This is where most people go wrong. Moving your hips back will help ensure that your body weight stays distributed on your heel/mid foot and not your toes. The weight of your body or the barbell on your back will now be put into your hamstrings, glutes, hips, lower back, and quads as you go down, which is what you want! If you let your body weight or the weight of the barbell go forward onto your toes, this now puts all of that force into your knees. Yes your hamstrings, glutes, hips, lower back, and quads will be working, but the brunt of where the force is heading leaves your hips and goes straight into those vulnerable knees. NOT WHAT WE WANT! As we move the hips back and keep the weight on our heels/mid foot we want to make sure our knees are tracking with the feet that are pointing slightly out. So keep opening the knees up and slightly keep the pressure going to the outside of the feet as well, not the inner/balls of the feet. So we are going down with hips back, weight on heels/mid foot, and our knees are staying out....beautiful. With all this we need to lock in that big chest...It can face down towards that ground as you get deeper, but it must remain in the same strong/big position. This ensures that the upper back is straight/safe and not rounded/at risk of injury...go as deep as you can with a straight back. That's the guideline for depth. A lot of us will hit a point during the decent where our hips roll under us and cause the lower back to round. That is a mobility issue and or a lack of controlling the muscles involved in the squat issue. Either way, it can be improved on, but squat down right up to that point to where the back is straight, but if you go any deeper, the hips would roll and your back would round. So if you can squat all the way down to your calves with great form (Straight back, big chest, weight back on heels and into hips) then go ahead and do so.

*SUMMARY: Shift weight onto heels/mid foot, move hips back not knees forward to start, as you go down keep weight back into hips and heels/mid foot, keep knees going out/opening up to stay in line with the feet pointed slightly out, go as deep as you can while keeping weight back/big chest/straight back.

STEP 3: HOW TO TURN IT AROUND (Amortization Phase)

This is a very often overlooked step to your squat. How to stop going down and start going up. That turn around point, the deepest position in the squat, is crucial because it is when you are under the most strain in the movement. You have to be very intentional about holding form. The biggest thing to fight, is dropping the chest (the legs start to stand up but your chest does not, causing you to bend over more and drop the chest towards the ground). The reason this happens is a lack of engagement from the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and even upper back). The squat is a weird animal, it is just as much a pull as it is a push. As your quads are driving up and pushing your feet into the ground, your hamstrings, glutes, and back are also pulling your body up to get back to your standing/start position. So whatever angle the torso is at in the bottom of the squat, you need to hold that angle as you turn the weight around at the bottom. In Simple terms, Stay tall in the torso. A key to this is flexing your abs throughout the whole movement. This helps the chest stay up on a firm foundation at the bottom, and it helps engage the hips which will help you engage the posterior chain correctly to pull your torso up while your quads are pushing you into a standing position.

*SUMMARY: Hold position, keep weight back into hips and heels/mid foot, keep torso in same angle and chest in a big strong position, keep abs flexed.

STEP 4: HOW TO GO UP (Concentric Phase)

Going up may be the hardest part, but its fairly simple. Just do what you just did...but opposite. In all seriousness, if you went down correctly, and held position in the turn around point, then your stretch and explosive energy is being held back in the hips/glutes/hamstrings and your chest is big and strong, your knees are tracking open with your feet, and your ready to simply stand up. Same rules apply while you're standing back up...back stays straight, chest stays big, eyes stay forward or up, weight stays back into hips and heels/mid foot, and knees track open with the slightly pointed out feet. Keep the position, keep the core tight, and fire up!

*SUMMARY: Hold position with weight back into hips and heels/mid foot, keep core tight, and stand up!

Well there you have it. Hopefully this helps you all get started on the right path in your squatting journey, or at least refreshes your memory for you avid squatters out there. You may hate 'em or love 'em, but you cannot deny that you need them. Happy training, and as always...follow your fitness. #squatting #squatober #howtosquat #howtodobacksquats #howtodofrontsquats #howtodobodyweightsquats

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