Are you ruining your squat without even knowing it?
Squats are hands down one of our favourite exercises. The movement recruits several muscles, having them work collectively to stimulate growth and hormonal response.
Squats don't just work your 'legs'. You're working your entire posterior chain, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, strengthening your core and using your upper body to help shift that load!
There are few exercises that work as many muscles as the squat!
A well-executed squat is great to master for your training. But it also contributes to the prevention of injury, improves your posture and when performed well - keeps your joints and mobility healthy.
Our top 6 squat mistakes you could be making
Squat Mistake 1.
Breaking at the knees
So you've heard that if your knees travel past your toes at the bottom of the squat position you're doing it wrong.
But have you heard that the whole 'knees travelling past the toes rule' could potentially be a myth?
We're here to address something more important.
Rather than trying to avoid the knees to toes ratio getting out of whack, focus on breaking at your hips.
Think hips first, not knees first.
Often you will find that it's necessary for the knees to move past the toes to keep your centre of gravity over the middle of your foot.
Ensuring your centre of gravity remains in the same position (and over the middle of your foot) throughout your squat is crucial in maximising your strength and avoiding injury.
To keep your bar path in one up and down line with your centre of gravity and achieve full depth, there comes a point in the squat where the knees should travel past your toes.
The deeper you squat, the more the knees are required to move forward to remain balanced.
So long as you execute this with good technique - you can move your knees past the toes for a great squat!
Squat Mistake 2.
Moving too fast
Part of a great squat is all about the speed in which you perform the movement.
Consciously controlling your breathing and the rate at which you descend AND ascend is crucial for avoiding injury.
Sometimes you'll see athletes attempting a squat incredibly fast both on the way down and up - which is often seen when testing a 1RM (1 repetition max).
This is sometimes acceptable given that the main purpose of testing a 1RM is to lift as much as possible.
However, when loads are technically 'lighter' and reps and sets are achieved, your speed is one of the top things to focus on.
Try to keep the amount of time you spend descending and ascending the same, and more importantly - maintain control the entire way down!
Control, control, control!
Squat Mistake 3.
Not bracing your core
You may not know it, but without a tight, engaged core - your squat is in serious danger.
And we all know just how damaging a rounded back can be to the safety of our spine.
A simple cue to follow when bracing the core is to...
First take a deep breath in and imagine the air filling your stomach,
and secondly, brace your core as if someone is about to punch you in the gut.
Squat Mistake 4.
Before you've even set yourself under the bar, your body should be tight.
Imagine that as soon as you lift the bar from the j-hooks, you need to squat.
Some people assume that as they still have a few steps between unracking the bar and setting themselves up, they can get tight later on.
The correct form needs to be maintained from beginning to end.
Another common setup mistake is lifting the bar on your toes. This comes back to maintaining tightness - imagine how much harder it is to keep your core and upper body tight while unracking the bar on your toes! This can be simply fixed by ensuring your bar is set up at a suitable height in line with your shoulders.
The final common mistake often seen in setups at the gym is lifting off with an asymmetrical foot stance.
Starting off with a staggered or mismatched stance can impact your stability versus unracking with asymmetrical stance.
Unracking with your feet mimicking a squat stance helps you maintain both tightness and symmetry in the movement.
Squat Mistake 5.
Heels coming off the floor
If you find that your heels are lifting during the descent of your squat, this could indicate a lack of mobility.
If the ankles are struggling, it affects the natural arch of the foot.
This then travels to your knees and can even cause them to cave in!
See how important a mobile ankle is?
The moment your ankles lift, you immediately affect your bar path and the maintainence of your centre of gravity, two things you already know are crucial to a well-executed squat.
Squat Mistake 6.
Knees caving in
Allowing the knees to cave in leaves them incredibly susceptible to injury, damaging the ligaments and joints.
Some sources pointing to weak quadricep muscles as the culprit for caving knees.
However, studies show that the hips could be the source of the problem!
The squat contains an eccentric portion to the movement (the downward movement).
The gravitational pull during this descent brings us to hip adduction which can cause the knees to cave.
To counteract this, we must enforce hip abduction and external hip rotation.
This is done through the glute medius which unfortunately, is underactive for many of us due to desk jobs and sitting throughout the day!
To improve the response of your glute medius, try adding in abduction movements to your routine using The Bod Booty Bands.
Make sure you tag us in your squat videos and hashtag #thebodresults !