Squats are one of the most fundamental exercises tiny could think of. No matter what strength, conditioning or bootcamp class you take, no matter if you work out with kettlebells, barbells or with just bodyweight, squats are most likely part of your workouts. And if you work with a personal trainer, I bet she has you doing quite a bit of squats.
Some movements that will always be there. There will never be one single, new and sexy, earth shaking movement that comes and replaces something as important as squats, push ups and pull ups.
In this article, you'll find five tips for better squats.
Why Squats are Awesome
There are several reasons why squats will always be important:
- There's no lower body muscle that you don't use when you do squats.
- When you're doing squats, you're also using your core and back. Like Steph Gaudreau says: When people wnat to build a strong core or ask me what's the most awesome exercise for abs, I tell them to do squats.
- They help you build super powerful legs.
- There are so many variations: from regular squats to Sumo squats to one-legged or Pistol Squats. You never get bored.
- You can do them everywhere. Even if you mostly use weights, air squats are a great part of simple, no-equipment bodyweight workouts and travel workouts when you don't have equipment in hand.
- They require a great amount of flexibility and mobility, so if you're able to do a beautiful, low, deep squat means that your body is in a good shape!
Us people used to squat a lot, but not so much any more. Sedentary lifestyle that came with sitting in comfy chairs and lots of driving has made doing a full squat really hard for some people. You actually don't see a beautiful full squat that often anymore.
Is Your Squat Pretty?
How does your squat look like?
Have you actually ever looked at it?
It's time to really check out what your squat looks like. Take a short video of yourself or do them in front of a mirror and see how you're doing.
Five Tips for Better Squats
Knees and Toes are “Looking” in the Same Direction
Some people say that your toes have to be slightly turned out in a squat. Others say that the toes have to be pointing exactly forward.
That doesn't really matter all that much. But the really important part is to keep in mind that the knees should exactly follow the toes, so that the knees and toes two should “look” exactly in the same direction.
Pay close attention to your knees and don't let them cave in. Keep them in line with your toes!
Knees are Pushed Out
This point is related to the last one. In a proper squat, your knees and toes are in line, and your knees should never collapse, or, cave in.
If your knees are turning inward during a squat, that might be a sign of weak glutes or tight hips, but it could also be a bad habit.
To change that bad habit, use this mental tip: think splitting the ground under you when doing a squat. When you picture that, you'll automatically press the knees out so that they end up in the same line with your toes.
Heels are Down
Keeping the heels down is really important in a proper squat. When you're squatting, you want to have the majority of the weight on your heels, and when you do that, your heels should be glued to the ground.
When you're able to keep your heels down, that automatically helps to get your knees and toes position right as well so that they're tracking the same direction.
Try to glue your heels down!
If they come up, the problem might be in poor ankle mobility.
Ankle rotations, rocking your ankle back and forth in a lunge position and bodyweight calf raises will help to increase the ankle mobility.
Also, your calves might be tight, so that they basically pull the heel off the ground. Stretching and foam rolling the calves will help.
Core is Tucked In
What does core have to do with squats?
Whatever exercise you do, it's always important to tuck the belly in. Hold your core tight and strong.
It's true that also your core works hard when doing squats, especially weighted squats. When you tuck your core in, you support your back and keep your posture nice and tall.
Try this yourself: Do some squats with “lazy” belly and then some with your stomach pulled in. You'll notice that when your belly is not tucked in, also your shoulders tend to slouch and your lower back feels “loose”.
When you keep your core strong, also your shoulders automatically go back and your lower back is much more supported.
Your Butt Gets Close to the Ground
Try to do the deepest, lowest squat that you possibly can. Because the lower you go, the more muscles you use, the stronger you become, and, well, let's be honest here–the better looking butt you build.
Think about the depth of your squat also when doing HIIT workouts where the goal is to do as many reps of exercise as you possibly can in a certain amount of time. Aim to do as many proper squats as you can! No cheating here.
Get your butt to the ground!
If you can't do it, you may have tight and shortened hip flexors–stretch and foam roll them.
Another problem might be tight ankles. Do ankle mobility exercises, like ankle rotations, bodyweight calf raises and rocking back and forth in a lunge position.
Practice a lot! Some people just don't know that their squat is not actually too deep, or they may never have thought about it being important. But it is! That may be another bad habit that you can fix by lots of practicing. Focus on depth at every squat.
Do your squats properly! You will gain so much more strength of it when you're keeping in mind five tips for better squats:
- Keep the toes and knees in line.
- Don't let the knees to cave in.
- Keep the heels down.
- Tuck the core in.
- Squat as low as you possibly can.