Friday, February 13, 2009

Improving Your Squat

Following is a checklist of some of the most common problems with an individual's squat.

  • Leans too far forward with the upper body
  • Knees cave in as you descend
  • Can't get into the bottom position (below parallel)

Now let's look at how to correct each of these.

Leans too far forward

Commonly, this is associated with a lack of mobility at the hip joint.  As the hips descend, overly tight hip flexor muscles pull the torso forward, rather than allowing it to remain upright.  This can be fixed by dynamically stretching the hip flexors and quads.  In your pre-workout warm-up, begin to perform Rocking Hip Flexor mobilizations.  To do this, stand in a split stance, with one foot out in front of the other, as if you were about to perform a lunge.  Push your weight forward over your front foot, placing a stretch on the muscles at the front of the back hip.  Hold that position for a one-count, and rock back onto your back foot.  Perform 8 repetitions per side.

Knees cave in as you descend

This problem is generally caused by over-active adductors (the muscles on the inside of your thighs) and weak, or under-active, abductor muscles.  It is very common in women.  A nice little trick that I learned from Mike Robertson's blog is to take a piece of rubber tubing or exercise band and tie it around your knees as you squat.  By putting this little bit of pressure on the outsides of the knees, you cue the abductor muscles to keep the knees in proper alignment.

Can't get into the bottom position

This is generally a problem associated with the tight hip flexors.  If you've fixed those and are still having problems getting all the way down, then a few coaching cues might help.

  • Hips back - as you begin your descent, make sure that you are pushing your hips back first.  (As opposed to bending the knees first.)  Some coaches will cue you to think about closing the car door when you have two arms full of groceries.
  • Keep your weight through your heels.  In the squat, your weight should never be on your toes, or the balls of your feet.  You should be able to wiggle your toes through the entire range of motion.
  • Practice, practice, practice!!!

Good luck taking that squat form to the next level!

Train smart; eat right!


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