The squat has always been a staple exercise of fitness enthusiasts. Not only does this movement require strength, it requires a great deal of stability throughout the entire body as well. There are very few other exercises that can work your body in the same way that a squat does which is exactly why it shouldn’t be overlooked in your training regimen. Many people forego squatting as a result of the movement feeling awkward and fear of getting hurt as a result of poor form. If you find that you are having issues with shifting weight to one side, your feet shifting during your squats, low back or knee pain as a result of squatting, or your knees caving inward during the motion, here are a few tricks to improve your squat form in a very short period of time.
Your squat form may be perfect if you just drop the ego and pick a manageable weight. Maybe your quads and glutes can push you through the motion with 500lbs on your back but if your stabilizers can’t keep your body in the correct position, you will not only fail to improve your strength but you put yourself at risk for injury.
The squat requires movement at the ankle, knee and hip. If any muscles that act on those joints are tight or not moving properly, it can impair you from performing a squat correctly. Many people suffer from a lack of mobility in their hips. Stretching your hip flexors and extensors, as well as your hamstrings prior to squatting can greatly increase squat depth as well as improve alignment to ensure that both sides are working equally as hard.
Changing Your Foot Position:
While angling your toes slightly outward can pre-shorten your glutes a bit, it can help people with tight hips and calves track their knees over their toes properly. Not everyone’s body is built exactly the same. Some people don’t have the range of motion to complete the exercise properly with their feet pointed straight ahead. This trick will allow you to squat safely as you work on developing your range of motion.
Utilizing the Goblet Squat:
When working on squat form, many people seem to have issues with spinal stability and posture. Far too many people do damage to their lower back by leaning too far forward and I continue to see people that allow their knees to shift out way over their toes in an attempt to keep their back vertical. The goblet squat changes your center of gravity and can help correct both of these postural issues. Having more weight in front of your body will help shift the knees back towards the ankle. At the same time, maintaining multiple contact points between the weight and the front of the body can help with proper spinal posture and stability for those that over utilize their low back.
Blocking Your Heals:
For some people it comes down to ankle mobility. If stretching didn’t help you overcome that ankle tightness, raising your heals can allow your ankles to stay in a more comfortable position which in turn improves knee stability. When you have extremely tight calves, your body will try to compensate by shifting your knees to take pressure off the muscles in the lower leg. Raising your heals will let you squat with less ankle mobility and should help to improve knee stability.
Banding the Knees:
If you have tried all of the other fixes and you still find your knees caving in during your squat, try utilizing a resistance band positioned around the knees. The inward tension on the knees will create neurological feedback and you will begin to activate your hip abductors to keep your knees aligned and ensure they are tracking over the toes for the entire motion.
Always remember, DON’T SKIP LEG DAY!
Comment with your favorite leg exercises!