Squatting is one of the foundational movement patterns along with the hip hinge, push, pull, lunge and carry. As human beings, we squat throughout our entire lives. From a baby first learning to stand to an adult squatting down to pick up a box off the floor. We squat almost every day so it is important that we can do it pain-free and with good form. The squat is a great movement that can lead to strength, power, and muscle building. It is important to make sure you are squatting with proper form. Proper form is going to be different for each person. Once the form is down, there are many different variations people can use to find a pain-free method to train the squat pattern.
Why you should squat
Squatting is something you do basically every day. You squat to pick up something from the ground, sit down onto a chair, and take a poop are a few tasks you do every day. Learning to squat properly will keep you healthy too. You build strength throughout the entire body. Strength leads to more muscle and less fat. A strong resilient body leads to better overall quality of life and the squat is one of the best movements for overall strength.
How to perform the squat
Everyone is going to squat differently. Depending on the length of his or her legs, hip structure, previous injuries, and many other factors. That is why it important to work with a coach to help you find the best squat position and form for you. Foot placement, knee position, depth of the squat, and shin angle will be different, depending on the person. A 6’5″ guy is not going to squat the same as 5’5″ woman. The tall guy has a lot farther to travel down and back up so a comfortable pain-free squat for him will look different than the shorter woman’s.
I usually start teaching the squat from the bottom up; first figuring out foot position. Then we move up the legs to the torso and head. With a new squatter, I will usually have them sitting on a box and standing up from there. The three things I like to focus on with the squat are chest up, butt back, and knees out. Another thing I like for everyone when squatting is having a neutral spine. Think having a straight line from the back of your head down to your butt. Like any movement, it is easier to see a movement rather than reading about it. So check out the video below.
There is no prescribed depth that everyone needs to squats. Unless you are a powerlifter, squatting to parallel or lower is not necessary. Other than that, people should squat as low as they can while being able to control the weight through the entire movement. Squatting deeper will recruit more muscles but if you are unable to control the weight through the entire range of motion you will likely get hurt. Control means a neutral spine, knees not caving in, and stability through the movement.
Just like everyone will not have the same squat setup or form, he or she will not need to use the same variation. There are various tools and equipment that can be used for the squat. There are many variations too, depending on what piece of equipment.
- Air/bodyweight squat
- Dumbbell or kettlebell squat to box
- Dumbbell or kettlebell squat from box
- Dumbbell or kettlebell goblet squat
- Landmine squat
- Overhead squat
- Dumbbell or kettlebell front racked squat
- Barbell front squat
- Zercher squat
- Safety bar back squat
- Barbell back squat (high bar or low bar)
- Barbell box squat
- Wide-stance squats
- Many others
To determine what variation is best for you schedule an assessment with myself or a qualified coach. Don’t just grab a barbell and start back squatting if you are new to squatting. You should find a coach and learn the proper form for you and determine the squat variation that is best for you and will allow you to stay pain-free while achieving your goals.
Are you ready to start progressing your squat pattern? Do you want to learn how to do it correctly and find the correct variation that allows you to move pain-free? Click here to apply for coaching with me.