Your Guide To The Perfect Squat

Firstly, let’s just discuss the caption. Is there such thing as ‘the perfect squat’? Each and every person is different, from how we look to how our body moves. Because of this, my squat may look very different to yours. However, in saying that we can still put drills and cues into place to assist you with your squat and how to make it work for you. I’ve broken this post down into different sections, because there’s more than just dropping into a squat.

Range of movement and flexibility

To enable you to perform a squat without injury, you need to have reasonable movement. If you spend a great deal of time sitting down, you may find your hip flexors and gluteal muscles are tight causing the squat to be a difficult move.

Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds, or until you can feel the area relax before swapping to the other side. Be careful not to find the stretch by extending your upper back, squeeze your bottom and ease your hips forward. You will feel the stretch in the front of your hips, and travelling down into your quadriceps (front of thigh).

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Hip Flexor Stretch

You may also be tight in your glutes (bottom muscles), which inhibit your squatting ability. Below are two stretches that work to stretch out muscles in this area.

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Pigeon Pose (stretch)

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Piriformis Stretch, laying 

Let’s take a look at movement. How freely can you move? This movement, the Spiderman stretch is brilliant to test and improve the range of movement in your hips. Before exercise, keep this dynamic by switching over every 2-3 seconds. Then, at the end of your session you can re-test this stretch and keep it static and hold for 1-2 minutes each side.

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Spiderman stretch 

Lastly, this is a drill I like to put in place at the beginning of a session to remind clients of the squat. If you have limited range of movement in your ankles, this can potentially cause issues with your squat. (Whilst I didn’t picture ankle mobility, as there’s already a lot of information to take in here, I will be doing a video of it on Instagram soon). By blocking up your heels, can help you do squat more freely, whilst opening up the hips.

Start by sticking your hips backward, place your fingers underneath your toes and come down into a squat position. You may find you can’t get your torso up as much as pictured initially, which is totally normally, just keep working at your stretching and mobility and you’ll be surprised with how quickly you progress. Complete 6-8 reps of this drill, and repeat 3 times.

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Squat drill, using plates to raise the heels.

Activation

Why?

You can squat all day long, but if you’ve not got awareness of where you should be feeling it there’s high chance another more dominant muscle is doing the work or you can cause yourself an injury. In a nutshell, if you can learn how to get muscles firing the body will make neuromuscular adaptations which means you’ll reap the benefits a lot quicker (and feel it in all the right places).

How?

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Clam Shell, with band 

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Clam Shell, with band 

 Let’s squat

Since we’ve covered the preparation to squat, let’s talk about the movement itself. We’ve all got different bodies like I mentioned above, so all our squats will differ. But to set yourself up, I’ve written the steps below to know what you’re looking for.

  1. Set your feet at hip width apart, or slightly wider.
  2. Your toes will point forward, and ensure your knees are following your toes.
  3. Take your hands out in front of you and make a diamond shape with your hands, and push through your shoulders (this creates tension, and helps to keep your chest up).
  4. To squat, push your hips back and down into the weight of your heels.
  5. Ensure your knees don’t cave inwards, by pushing the knees out as you squat.

You might find your initial set up wasn’t quite comfortable, so try making tweaks to ensure you’re happy with your squat pattern. It’s likely as you gain more mobility, the squat movement will feel more comfortable and natural.

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Bodyweight squat 

Stability vs Mobility

Whilst it’s understood poor mobility and or flexibility will likely inhibit your squat, we have to consider stability as a factor of squatting. Are you finding it hard to keep your chest up? Or is the balance difficult?  This is something you can address easily, with the following two exercises to try!

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Goblet squat

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Squat, with plate 

Another factor to consider, is your footwear. Running shoes, with a high tread is not desirable. It can either give you a false sense of balance, or in fact inhibit your ankle movement. Don’t panic, you don’t have to rush out and buy the latest lifting trainers! Just take them off, in fact this is a very popular way to train as it forces you to feel the movement and not rely on an external source for balance and mobility.

There we have it, your guide to your perfect squat. Try to incorporate the mobility exercises into your weekly workouts, and let me know how you get on by tagging me on Instagram  or Twitter. If you would like more information on training with me, please do email or head here to find out about the gym. 

Wearing: Sweaty Betty 

The Gym: Performance Elite Gym 

 

 

 

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