4 Ways to Perfect Your Squat
The traditional barbell squat has been dominating the fitness exercise industry for decades. This compound movement means business when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck. As it activates several major muscle groups including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and core, it has the potential to dramatically boost your strength, lean muscle mass, and fat loss. As popular as the squat is, it is also the exercise that can do some heavy damage if performed incorrectly. Let’s take a look at 4 ways that you can perfect your squat to maximize your results.
- Master Your Core
Despite popular belief, the term “core” encompasses more than just the front abdominal muscles. Your core is made up of your front abdominal muscles as well as you obliques, lower back, and, to an extent, your hip flexors. Essentially, the space from your lower chest to your hips: this is your core.
In order to maximize your squat, especially when it comes time to push the weight back up, you need a strong core. To develop a strong core, you need to incorporate a variety of core-focused movements into your weekly routine. Here are a few core exercises to try:
- Barbell Windmill
- Lower Back Extensions
- Hip Adduction Machine
- Hip Abduction Machine
- Footwork is Key
If you’ve ever watched someone trying to squat while wobbling back and forth, there’s a good chance that they had no control over their foot placement. Think of your feet like the foundation when building a house. You cannot build off of a weak foundation. Depending on your genetics and bone structure, you may need to try a variety of foot placement techniques. What you want to focus on is driving the weight evenly through the foot. You shouldn’t be heavily favoring the front or the back as this may lead to imbalance.
- Position the Barbell Correctly
There are two primary ways to hold the bar upon your back: upon the upper traps or the lower traps. Again, this will depend on genetics, bone structure, flexibility, and how you’re built. The one thing you do NOT want to do is place the barbell right on your neck. Improper placement of the barbell can quickly lead to strain or injury. Instead of throwing the bar on your neck, bring your shoulder blades together to form a shelf for the barbell.
- Avoid the Butt Wink
This is the most common issue that you’ll see in the gym. The butt wink is a funny name for when the glutes curve in at the bottom of the movement. Imagine someone twerking at the bottom of a squat. This is a big problem as it is a sign of overcompensation. What’s more, it places unnecessary stress on the lower back muscles, which is why so many people complain about the squat hurting their lower back.
To correct the butt wink, you have to stretch your hamstring, hip flexor, lower back, and calf muscles on a regular basis. What’s more, you have to focus on strengthening your core, as discussed above. Have someone take a video of you squatting to see if you’re making this common mistake.
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