There's a reason why you'll find squats in every level of every BOD program.
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!
Here are some bites of information to further your knowledge in this fundamental movement, and help you improve your technique!
1. Break at the hips... to avoid breaking at the knees
The squat can be broken down into several parts, but when you watch it in action, it appears to be a fluid, smooth movement.
You'll noticed that the very first part of the body is the shift of the hips.
2. Slow and controlled
If you have ever worried about hurting your lower back, or experienced lower back pain from squatting - practise slowing down your squat and controlling the load on your back on the way down and up.
Another way to maintain control, is to imagine that each part of your foot is planting into the ground and the weight is leveraged rather than on your heels or the balls of your feet.
3. Protect your back
Protect your back and avoid the risk of injury further by bracing your core. Bracing your core is done so by taking a deep breath in, tightening and imagining that your stomach is being filled with air. The natural next step would be to press your stomach outwards (not suck in).
You may not know it, but without a tight, engaged core - your squat is in serious danger.
Bracing your core will also help to avoid a rounded back which is also a common risk of injury that occurs during the squat.
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.