Weight Training 101: Squats

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Let’s talk squats. If you want to see any REAL change in your physique you MUST be doing squats. And the nice thing about squats is there is really no limit to how many different variations you can use to burn fat and build awesome muscle.

 

Not only that there are tons of ways to MODIFY a squat if you have limitations. So, just like everything else regarding fitness, there’s NO EXCUSE for you to not be doing some form of squats.

 

Squats are a foundational pillar to fitness. If you talk to any fitness professional they are going to FIND a way to make sure squats make it into your program.

 

But why? Why are squats a requirement of every great program?

 

Glad you asked… let me tell ya…

 

 

SQUATS AREN’T JUST FOR LEGS

 

Squats are a compound movement (uses more than one joint to complete) and a full body exercise.

 

Yes when we think of the squat we think that we are just working our lower body, but we are really working just about everything.

 

A good squat requires muscle activation from your quads, glutes, hamstrings, T-spine, and depending on the style of squat your back, chest and shoulder muscles will also help stabilize the weight you’re moving.

 

And because squats are a compound movement and require SOOOO many muscles to get through the movement pattern properly, you will be burning TONS of calories when doing proper squats (transforming you into a badass).

 

Also, squats increase hormone production that helps increase muscle and will assist in continuing to burn fat throughout the day.

 

And if you’re still not convinced squats are awesome do them for long enough and you’ll get some great looking legs and an awesome butt outta the deal, good enough now??

 

Awesome, let me show you how to squat then.

 

 

HOW TO SQUAT:

Photo Jul 06, 7 20 55 PM

 

Before we get into this DON’T stress out and think too hard on this thing, the MOST important rule here is “Just Squat.”

 

The reason I don’t want you to freak out is there are just as many squatting techniques out there as there are coaches. And it’s not because no one knows what they’re doing, it’s just because we’ve all been taught differently.

 

I’ll tell you right now though, the only coaches that are right are the ones that are teaching you a squat pattern that helps you squat for peak performance and won’t cause you pain.

 

If you’re having joint pain then you need to stop, re-evaluate your squat (or have a coach help), then adjust, and get back into the game.

 

 

In my “perfect” world of squats, below is how I would love for your standard squat to look.

 

THE SET UP:

  1. Feet Shoulder Width Apart (maybe slightly wider)
  2. Toes straight or pointed very slightly outward (Don’t point them too far or we will put a lot of additional force on the hips).
  3. Think about keeping your shoulders rolled back and your shoulder blades pinched together throughout the squat. This is to help keep good posture throughout your squat and keep your back safe.
  4. Keep your head straight, I don’t want you craning your neck to look at the floor or the ceiling. The best way to do this is pick a spot in front of you and focus on that while you squat.

 

THE SQUAT:

To start I want you to make sure you have great footing. So, while standing there you should have all your weight on the ball and heel of your foot, make sure it stays that way. You should be able to move your toes the entire time you’re squatting.

 

Take a deep breath in and break from the hips, and push your butt back. Continue sitting your hips back until your knees begin to bend. Make sure you bend at the hips first and not the knees.

 

Keep moving your hips back and down. The whole time keep your back neutral, and your chest and shoulders up.

 

On your way down make sure your knees aren’t collapsing in towards each other, make sure they stay outward, but don’t push them past your feet.

 

Now, squat down to parallel. This is where your hip joint is just below your knees. Now, if you can’t squat that low, that’s totally fine. Squat as low as you can making sure you keep good posture. If you’ve lost good posture then you’ve gone too far.

 

It’s time to come back up.

 

Breathe out and start your ascent, remember to push your knees out as we did on our way down and squeeze everything to come back up (still with good posture). Make sure to squeeze your butt at the top, so you get good glute activation.

 

And that’s your perfect squat. Below are some videos if you’d like to see how proper squats are performed for specific squat variations.

 

 

 

NOTE: Not everyone’s perfect squat will look the same. Also you will hear people tell you that you either need to go to parallel or ATG (Ass To Grass) for your squats, NOT TRUE. Look, everyone has a starting point and if you need to work your way down to a parallel squat with good posture, then take your time. But make sure you’re trying to get there eventually. It’s much better to build good squatting habits now then to fix bad ones later.

 

HOW TO PROGRESS SQUATS

 

NOTE: You won’t see Over Head Squats in here because that’s definitely an exercise progression that is beyond this Weight Training 101 Series, so work on the basics FIRST then we can talk about putting weight over your head.

 

Prisoner Squats-

I love these because they get your T-Spine ready and stretched out before progressing to Front Squats, this is a great squat to start at too because it will let you know if you need to work on strength before progressing to harder squat variations.

 

 

Goblet Squats-

This is also an excellent beginner squat pattern, but the difference between this one and Prisoner Squats is that you can now add more weight to your squat and start learning to build strength, as well as, mobility.

 

goblet-squat
Photo from directlyfitness.com

 

 

Front Squats-

Before I put clients into Back Squats I want them to be able to do Front Squats. Plus the Front Squat is great because it’s an exercise that almost SELF corrects your movement patterns.

Don’t get me wrong you can still do a Front Squat incorrectly but when first starting out you can maneuver yourself easier in a Front Squat than a Back Squat.

 

Back Squats-

This is the advanced exercise. Putting a bar across your back is a big deal, and your body should be trained and ready before you just start doing Back Squats. Once you are here you should be great at your Squatting technique and should know all your ques by now.

If you’re not sure if your feet are in the right position or how to break from the hips first, then you need to go back to another squat pattern first and build to this exercise. Get proficient before you jump ahead.

 

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Photo from gertlouw.com

 

 

THE WRAP UP

monday motivation1Start squatting. Follow the simple ques and steps I have for you above to get great at squatting then progress your squats and try to get comfortable enough with your form to do Back Squats.

 

Squats are awesome and if they’re not in your program then you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to get fit quick and see awesome strength, physique and confidence improvements.

 

If, even after reading this article, you still need some help figuring out squats (or any other exercises for that matter) please contact me and I’d be happy to find some time to chat with you and help you on your way.

 

So, your homework this week is to find a squat exercise that matches your abilities and MASTER it, don’t wait just do it NOW. And if you get a chance let me know how it goes. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or just email (Trevor@TrainARC.com) if that works better for you!

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