If you’ve seen me promoting NFP Gear lately. It’s because they I admire what the two individuals running it are doing. I’m absolutely impressed with their ability to offer quality products as well as how well they’ve put themselves on the map in such a short time. Here’s an awesome article they just came out with:
THE POWER OF THE PERFECT SQUAT
A guide to proper squat form
The Squat: one of the most fundamental exercises; critical for a well rounded training regimen. Squats support the body’s mobility, foundation, posture, and serve to strengthen and maintain the body’s biggest muscle groups. Unfortunately, the squat is an exercise that is often performed incorrectly.
Improving your squat form can decrease the potential for injury as well as allow you to get maximum results from this productive compound exercise.
There are several variations of the squat and they can be performed using your own body weight (recommended for beginners) or with weights and equipment. It is crucial to perfect your form using little or no weight. Rushing your progress by loading the bar before you have practiced your form is a recipe for injury.
Regardless of the variation you prefer, your squat can be improved using some universal principles. This article will focus on one of the most commonly known forms: the rear loaded squat. We have provided a step-by-step guide to properly executing the rear-loaded squat.
- Begin with a body weight squat in order to perfect your form prior to adding weight.
- When you are ready for the bar, position it in the rack at about arm-pit level.
- Set up beneath the bar, being sure it is centered with your body and your hands are spaced evenly. Rest the bar on your shoulders positioned just above your traps, do not rest the bar at the base of your neck, this could lead to spinal injury.
- Pull your hands in toward your shoulders until you feel tension in your upper back, keeping your elbows pointed toward the ground.
- Check your starting position.
- ?Stance:Stand with feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. The wider the stance, the more the exercise will work the back of the legs and glutes. The more narrow your stance, the more your quadriceps will be emphasized.
- ?Feet: Your feet should be firmly planted and slightly turned out to allow for proper knee position throughout the exercise.
- Chest and Back: It is critical that your spine is in proper alignment as you execute the squat. Your back should never be rounded. Be sure your lower back has a slight arch, following the neutral curve of your spine, by keeping your shoulders back, pressing your chest out and your hips back. You are ready to squat.
- Inhale deeply, contract your core, lift the bar off the rack, and take one step back on each foot, maintaining your starting position.
- Begin the descent, bending your knees while pressing back with your hips and leaning forward at the waist. It should feel as if you are sitting in a small chair. All of the weight should be on your heels.
- During your entire range of motion, your head should be facing straight forward with chin slightly raised and your knees remain behind your toes. Try to keep your shins perpendicular to the floor. Focusing on this will help keep the weight on your heels while maintaining the correct back position.
- Maintain a long and contracted torso while hinging your hips back and pushing your knees apart as you pull down with your hips. Your glutes should be moving backward during the downward motion of the squat. At no time should your knees bow inward, this is usually an indication that the weight or bar is too heavy or your spine is out of alignment.
- Continue the downward motion until your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. However, your initial squat depth is dependent on your flexibility. Focus on keeping all of the pressure on your heels; this will help you attain proper depth. Because of their body’s structure some people are only able to descend to slightly above parallel, try to go as low as possible without pain in the knees.
- Once you have reached the target depth, reverse the movement. Lead with your chest, and drive upward through the hips while continuing to bear the weight on your heels. Press through the glutes to raise yourself into the top position then straighten your legs and tilt your hips slightly forward while squeezing your glutes. You have now completed one full repetition.
- Repeat the motion to complete your set. Make sure to deeply inhale during your decent and exhale as you drive upward.
Tip: Proper form takes practice. To help perfect your squat form. Have a personal trainer or an experienced lifter evaluate your form. Or, take a video of yourself doing the exercise in order to isolate any flaws.
Remember, the most productive exercises will cause your muscles to burn. If you are performing the squat correctly, it should be uncomfortable. Learn to embrace the burn and you will see results. Now that you are armed with the fundamentals on form and technique, you have no excuses. Show your new found power and kick your training into high gear!