Squats are an excellent exercise for improving the overall fitness, physique and posture, but they can also be extremely risky if done incorrectly. Sadly, I often observe that people load those plates on before they even master the technique. Heavy weight + bad technique = recipe for disaster.
First of all, I’m not sure why some people confuse squatting with crouching. Do not laugh – I’m serious. Squatting is both – the hardest yet the most functional exercise, because it mimics the motion of sitting down. And to sit, we must first bend at the hip to stick the bottom back, then move the bodyweight weight onto the heel (not toes) and lastly, bend the knees and sit down. When you sit down your back is neutral rather than overarched, as should be the case with squats.
There exists a popular myth that squats are bad for your joints. It’s important to remember that using our joints is precisely what makes them work properly. The more we use our joints the more our brain has to tell our body to produce appropriate lubrication and stimulate cell regeneration. Of, course, like I’ve already mentioned, quality over quantity and that’s why I urge you to progress with the weight steadily rather than stack the weight on like there’s no tomorrow.
Ensure maximum mobility before beginning on squats. Our mostly sedentary lifestyle makes certain parts of our bodies extremely tight, sometimes to the point of immobility. That’s why, rolling, stretching and special mobility movements must be performed daily! Tight hips, back, ankles… They will prevent you from performing a proper squat.
Watch your posture carefully, use a partner or at least a mirror for corrections. Your lower back should be neither arched nor hyperextended and your upper body shouldn’t be bent too far forward. Your bottom neutral. Your knees shouldn’t ever stick our further to the front than your toes. They should move in like with the feet, don’t let your knees collapse inwards or outwards. Toes should point slightly out.
First bend at the hips, then knees – it will help you find the difference between a crouch and a squat. Keep the weight on your heels, push back up through the heels.
Keep your core tight, chest up, shoulders back. Try not to lock out at the top or hyperextend the lumbar spine (don’t thrust the hips forward at the top).
If you try to use these tips, master the technique first, then move on to heavier weight you have great chances to muscular growth and development free from injuries.
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