04 Nov Learn how to squat like a pro
The squat is becoming increasingly popular in the fitness world, and rightly so. It’s such an important movement for the human body to be able to perform and you’d be surprised at the number of people who can’t perform a squat AT ALL, let alone properly. Research documents that the action of a squat activates around 200 muscles, including obviously the lower limbs, but also hip rotators and core muscles which help in stabilisation.
The squat is an essential movement to keep the pelvic floor active and strong. Our western culture leaves us particularly vulnerable to a dysfunctional pelvic floor, and with that a dysfunctional ‘core’ as our activity or lack thereof revolves around sitting. Sitting driving to work, sitting for 8 hours at work, sitting driving home…and then, tired from a hard day, sitting and watching TV / reading / sitting at the pub! Of course, with this level of inactivity we can’t really expect our muscles to work properly.
Squatting is the position we’re meant to be in for bowel elimination (pooping). Here’s to sharing too much information, BUTT (pun intended) squatting aligns the rectum perfectly vertical, minimising the effort and maximising the benefits of gravity!
Sitting on a high toilet is completely illogical for our body’s natural movements.
This is me doing an ‘ass to grass’ squat – the full squat position that humans should be capable of doing as it’s our natural pooping position. If you have a vivid imagination, I’m sorry for what this image and the previous sentence may conjure up.
So, how to squat properly?
There are many variations of ‘the squat’ when it comes to fitness. Changes in positioning can make certain muscles work harder so you can manipulate your positioning to focus on certain muscles.
However! To keep things simple, here’s a standard body weight squat, that normal human function should be able to do:
- Feet shoulder width apart, with your toes slightly pointed outwards
- Keep your back in a neutral position (this means not bending forwards at all, and not arching your back)
- Your weight should be directed onto your heels
- Bend at your hips, shoving your bum backwards
- Start bending your knees to about 90 degrees (KNEES SHOULD NEVER GO IN FRONT OF TOES – you should always be able to see your toes when you look down)
- Your bum should be going backwards, with your back neutral
- It’ll feel like you’re really ‘displaying’ your butt, this is good technique so stop being self conscious (unless your gym pants go see-through on stretch, then be careful who’s behind you)
Here’s a break down of me doing a body weight squat (described above).
Now, I also don’t have a completely ‘perfect’ squat, but I am working on it! Look at how my knees stay tracking in line with my toes. This should be the same on the way back up.
Do this in front of a mirror so you can see what you need to change about your position.
Now, the most common problem with a squat is that your back starts to curve as you get lower, called the butt wink! If this is happening, squat only to the level that your back doesn’t curve. This is often because your hamstrings are too tight and pulling it that way.
So, you should also STRETCH YOUR HAMSTRINGS (i.e. the back of your thighs) for at least 30 seconds. In my clinic I’d normally prescribe longer if you have this issue arising and I’d stretch them out for you myself, to increase the efficacy.
Now give it a whirl! Do it at work at your desk! At the train station! No don’t do that. Do it at home in front of the mirror!
That’s all from me for now,