The Squat Pattern
The squat is one of the basic human movement patterns. All movement can be broken down into a few basic patterns. These include the squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, twist and gait patterns. Every exercise program should include variations of each of these movement patterns unless there is a physical reason like an injury that would prevent a person from performing the movement safely.
The squat pattern has many benefits. These include:
1. Place your feet shoulder width apart with toes turned out slightly up to 30 degrees.
2. Place your hands just outside shoulders when squatting with a bar
3. Keep your chest up and low back tight – Think “Proud chest”. This will help keep your lower back flat.
4. Engage your core, keep your abs tight. Brace your abs like you’re about to get punched in the gut.
5. Look straight ahead. Your neck should be in a neutral position, neither pointed up or down.
6. Place your weight on your heels. Your weight should be shifted away from your toes to the middle of your foot and heel.
1. Inhale deeply
2. Sit hips back, keeping your flat back to start the squat. Pull your shoulder blades back, squeezing as hard as possible. Think of pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades.
3. Maintain alignment of knees over middle toes. Push the knees out to the side. This will engage the muscles of the hips and keep the femur, knee, and ankle in proper alignment. If you are having trouble keeping your knees out loop a resistance band and place it about one inch above the knees. Then practice squatting pushing the knees out so the band does not fall to the ground.
4. Squat down to parallel or below. Go as low as you are able with good form. The deeper you squat, the more you work the glutes. The more shallow you squat, the greater the quadriceps activation.
Squat depth can be affected by ankle mobility, hip mobility, core and lumbar spine stability, and how far apart your feet are set.
1. Spread the floor with feet to engage glutes
2. “Push the floor away“
3. Squeeze glutes at lockout
1. Incomplete range of motion
2. Knees caving in toward each other
3. Heels lifting off ground
4. “Butt wink“*
5. Looking up
6. Excessive forward lean of torso
7. Round upper back
If you have never done squats as part of your fitness routine, use the bodyweight squat as a starting point. If you are having trouble, try the wall squat or chair squat and work up to a full bodyweight squat. Perform squats two to three times per week for 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Increase the resistance by using a barbell, dumbells or kettlebells to improve strength and muscular endurance. Increase your workload over time by increasing repetitions and sets. Finally, you can increase the intensity of your workout by decreasing your rest periods of combining a squat exercise with other exercises.
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