The Squat Movement 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.




BENEFITS


The squat pattern has many benefits. These include:


1. Improved mobility in the ankles, knees, hips and thoracic spine.

2. Development of Muscle Mass. The squat develops the muscles around the hips and lower body – specifically the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.

3. Fat Burning. Using a high repetition squat program while you are in a negative caloric balance can contribute to fat loss.

4. Strength Gains. Squats make you stronger. Strength is important not only for athletes but helps keep our bones strong and may contribute to better balance as we age.

5. Improves mobility. Improving the squat pattern can help us move better by improving our range of motion in the hips and ankles.



APPROACH and POSITION


Setup


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.


MUSCLE CONTRACTION/MOVEMENT


Descent


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.


Ascent


1. Spread the floor with feet to engage glutes

2. “Push the floor away“

3. Squeeze glutes at lockout


Common Mistakes


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