The Importance of the Squat
One of the most basic human movements is known as the squat. From the time we are born our squat for is entirely perfect, but over time our form degrades. A proper squat engages all the muscles in the legs and recruits the use of your core.
Trying to master the squat is one of the most difficult, but rewarding things you can do. Mastery of the squat translates into various day to day uses. Being strong always has a practical use, and moving properly will make you live a longer and healthier life.
Many people focus on depth in the squat as the primary focus. This is an important aspect, but depth can be subjective to the athlete. We come in all shapes and sizes and our bone structure can limit our range of motion. For those of you constantly working on mobility and flexibility, but seeing little to no results it may be time to focus on your bone structure.
While we can control our flexibility and mobility we cannot change our bone structure. What we can do is change the positioning of our squat. If you are finding it impossible to reach full depth then the next few tips will be great for you to check.
Foot placement is the first and most important aspect. Many people recommend your feet be shoulder width apart, but for some that will vary by degree. I take a few inches wider than shoulder width and that is the most comfortable for my specific structure. Try a wider base in your squat to ensure proper foundation. Another thing to be wary of is where your feet are pointed toward. Many people find success with their feet straight forward and others find it is much more comfortable with the feet at a 45 degree angle. Make sure that your knees are in line with your feet.What you want to avoid is a narrow stance and avoid pointing your toes further than 45 degrees.
Safety is important when squatting. If possible squat in a cage or with safety bars at or one run below where you would be hitting depth. This will ensure you do not injure yourself if you happen to fail. If your gym does not have a cage or safety bars then the next best thing to do is find spotters. I personally recommend the two spotter method with a spotter on each side of the barbell. You can also do box squats which will help you bail out if need be. Finally, if none of these are options then there is always the bailout method. Essentially what will happen is that if you’re failing the lift you will push the barbell off your body and use that force to push your body away from the bar.
There are many variations and progressions of the squat. You may need to play around with many of them before progressing into the back squat. The bodyweight squat is the most basic and will help you with technique. The box squat will help if you have a mobility issue and gives you more piece of mind. The weight assisted squat will help with torso positioning and just involves holding a lighter plate if front of your body to keep you balanced. If you are having trouble hitting depth in the back squat it may be worthwhile to visit these for a week or two to figure out where your issue lies.