The squat is one of the most complex exercises you can perform. When you walk into the gym you’ll notice more than half of the individuals exercising do not perform a squat properly. They do not go down far enough during the squat, knees buckle in or are excessively forward,
heels come off the floor, chest sinks down, the back is rounded, etc. Although many individuals perform the squat improperly, they still load the bar with excessive weight, increasing their risk of injury.
Many individuals are not willing to put their egos aside to properly learn the squat first without weight. They are more worried about getting their PR than using proper form to increased performance. The improper squat form can lead to a variety of injuries, especially to the back and knees. A poor squat form can be due to a variety of issues including weak core, hips, back, or immobile ankles and hips. When the squat is done correctly it can lead to an increase in sports performance, and activities of daily living, which become very important as we age. Year after year, a countless number of athletes suffer severe knee injuries, which can be season or career-ending. Professional athletes are considered the most elite at what they do, and they superior athletically to recreational athletes.
Why are they suffering so many knee injuries then? Many athletes surprisingly do not know how to properly perform a squat or lack the proper mobility needed to perform a squat. If more athletes could properly perform a squat, there would be a reduction in sports-related injuries, especially to the knees. The reason many athletes suffer knee injuries is that they land improperly during running and jumping. Squatting properly can teach them to land properly during these movements.
The Body Weight Squat
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to learn the squat is performing a barbell squat first. Every individual should learn how to properly perform a bodyweight squat before moving on to a more difficult squat with weight. The body weight squat teaches them proper form needed to perform a barbell squat. To properly perform a body weight squat: place your feet shoulder-width with the feet near straightforward, place the weight of the heel, base of the first and fifth toe evenly against the ground to create a tripod, drive the hips back while squeezing your glutes, while keeping the chest up and back straight, drive the knees out with your arms out in front to maintain balance. A good body weight squat takes practice, and requires proper hip hinge and movement of all the muscles working at once.
Once you are able to properly perform a body weight squat do not shy away from it, and only perform barbell squats. Performing body weight squats often can be very beneficial for daily activities, strengthening muscles, and keeping proper form during the barbell squat.
The Barbell Squat
The high-bar barbell squat is the most commonly performed squat among recreational lifters. To perform the high-bar squat: Make a shelf on your upper back by pinching the shoulder blades back, establish a tripod of the feet, drive the hips back while squeezing your glutes, engage the core by taking a big breath in and holding, drive the hips back to create a hip hinge, keep the chest up and back straight, and keep the bar over the midfoot to keep your balance. The barbell squat is more complex than the bodyweight squat and requires more concentration, balance and coordination. The barbell squat places an individual at a greater risk of injury, and should not be performed till they can properly perform a body weight squat.
The squat is one of the most beneficial exercises you can perform. Every individual in a gym setting should learn to properly perform a squat to a certain degree (depending on injury history, etc.). The squat can lead to improvement in activities of daily living, along with a reduction in injuries. The squat takes time to learn, and requires the activation of many muscle groups working simultaneously. To perform a squat properly you need to strengthen your core, hips, glutes, and back muscles.
If you think you have good squat form, try performing a body weight squat and see how challenging it is for you. If you have trouble properly performing a body weight squat then you need to put your ego and weight aside, and start practicing the body weight squat before you continue to barbell squat. The use of a bench of stability ball can help reduce the risk and fear of falling while performing a body weight squat. Once you learn how to squat with a bench or stability ball, you can then practice the body weight squat by itself. Always remember this, the squat is a movement first, then an exercise. The squat does not become an exercise until you add weight to it.