Fix Your Squat
How to Fix Your Squat | Whether you’re training at the gym, or at home, for weight loss, or for strength, these squat tips, mobility drills, and exercises will take your workout and exercise routine to the next level! Learn how to squat properly so you can prevent injuries and protect your knees.
Squats may well be one of the most common exercises that you see on any given workout plan. They’re an excellent exercise because you can do them from anywhere, with or without equipment, and they target all the major muscle groups of the lower body. Because you’re utilizing such a big muscle group, they’re also a great way to get your heart rate up and break a sweat.
Now, you’ll hear a LOT of different opinions on what the perfect squat should look like. Everyone seems to be an expert on how to fix your squat, but is there truly a perfect way to squat that works for everyone?
A “Textbook” Squat Looks Like a Baby Squatting
- Your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with toes slightly turned outwards
- Keep your upper back straight and torso upright
- Your weight should be in your Heels
- Your knees stay behind your toes
- Lower than parallel so that your hips are below knee height
So why can’t some of us seem to be able to do it?
The down-low on how to get low😉
The squat is a multi-joint exercise and there are a LOT of different factors that may be contributing your squat form or lack thereof. Tight hips, ankles and calves, your limb and torso length, the arches of your feet, limb asymmetries, and weak glutes are all possible reasons that you may have trouble squatting with “textbook” form.
Any combination of these factors would make it difficult for anyone to squat properly. Instead of continuing your efforts at making your squat look textbook perfect, you may need to just need to learn a new squat variation that works better for you.
The great news is that there are lots of different ways to squat, so feel free to choose to squat in a way that works best for you and your body. There are certain people who are just built better for textbook squats than others, and there is no need to ruffle your feathers over this as a recreational lifter. You just need to find your perfect squat match and adjust appropriately.
Here are some common issues people have with squatting, why it’s happening, how you can adjust and new squat variations to try.
Keeping All the Weight on Your Toes, Heels lifting Up
When you perform a squat it’s important to keep the weight in the heels of your feet, not your toes. For some people, this feels incredibly unnatural. The thing is if you don’t try to correct this squat faux pas, and you begin to load with heavier weights, your knees can become incredibly vulnerable to injury.
Possible reasons why this is occurring: Tight Ankles/Calves leading to poor dorsiflexion (ability to lift toes upwards), Flat Arches in your feet, and/or Weak Glutes
Test for Ankle Mobility: Wall Ankle Mobility Test (5 inches from the wall)
If you think you may have issues with your ankle mobility, you can easily perform a quick test by kneeling down close to a wall with your testing leg as your front leg. Your big toe should be about 3-5 inches from the wall. You then shift your knee forward trying to touch your kneecap to the wall but without your heel lifting. If your knee can touch and your heel can remain flat on the floor, you likely have enough dorsiflexion – thus likely sufficient ankle mobility. If not – you should try the below exercises to help you improve your ankle mobility.
Squat Variations: Heel Elevated Squats may be another good fit for you. It’s a bit of a bandaid fix (ideally you should try to work on your mobility too!) but it will help improve your squat immediately and give you a sense of what proper squatting should feel like.
Other Options: Wear Lifting Shoes –>> These are meant for just this purpose! Look at how I can easily deep squat with wearing a pair!
Knees Falling Inwards (aka. Valgus)
As you descend into your squat, especially when using weights, you may find that your knees dip in towards one another. This is once again placing stress on the knees that can lead to injury.
Possible reasons why this is occurring: Weak Glutes, Tight Ankles (See Above)
Test Your Hips: You can do a simple test to asses if your glutes may have some weakness. Sit down onto a bench and try to stand up on just one leg. If your hip checks out, you may have a weakness of your glute medius (outer part of your butt)
Squat Variations: Squats with Band
>> Ready to Try A No-Equipment Home Workout? Click Here.
Short Torso with Long Femurs
You were blessed with supermodel long legs. Walking a catwalk during fashion week will likely feel more comfortable to you than trying to do a Back Squat. Since changing one’s limb length isn’t an option, you just need to work with your long limbs on this one and you can absolutely excel with squats. The issue is usually that you can’t keep your back straight, you tend to lean forward with your torso which can put your spine in a compromised position.
Possible reasons why this is occurring: You were born this way girl. Your upper leg bone is longer than the length of your torso.
Corrective Mobility Drills: Ankle Mobility Drills (if you can’t pass the wall ankle mobility test – see above)
Other: Wear Lifting Shoes (See above)
Long Torso with Short Femurs with Great Mobility
This is not a problem. You are blessed with “Textbook Squat” genetics. You will likely be able to excel at back squats! That being said, there is always room to improve your form, so you still need to pay attention to your body. If squats are new to you, you will have to be careful since you will likely be able to go fairly low to the ground. Starting with a Box Squat may be the most appropriate to help you gain stability before you go any deeper.
No matter what your squat currently looks like, everyone can benefit from fixing their squat technique so if you’re unsure if you have fallen victim to any of the above squat faux pas, just continue to work on hip/ankle mobility, glute strength, and don’t forget to work that core too! You will soon be well on your way to Fix that Squat!
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By: Micaela Whitworth, Certified Master Trainer & Fitness Nutritionist