The squat is a critical exercise for lower body strength, developing big and muscular legs and even for core training. With the squat, little mistakes frequently have a big impact on your performance. It’s important that you understand what is limiting your squat and how you can fix it. Below are the three biggest areas where mistakes are made and three exercises that you can use to fix them.
1. Leading With Your Knees
A lot of people want to begin the squat by pushing their knees forward. This puts a lot of stress on the knees, limits how far down you can squat, and disturbs your balance because your heels usually lift up to compensate. For a better start to your squat, begin by pushing your hips back.
The Solution: The box squat exercise can help fix this. For this exercise you need either a bench or a tall box, ideally about knee height. Position it in the squat rack. Begin with the bar on the back of your shoulders, just like in the squat. Step back until your heels are in contact with the box. From there, push your hips back until your glutes touch the box, then forcefully reverse directions. Do not rest on the box and do not bounce off it. This can be done for the same set and repetition scheme that you would use on the back squat.
2. Loss Of Control During The Descent
Many problems with the squat are the result of being too weak when moving down in the squat. This may cause technique to break down, may cause you to move out of the groove, or you just may end up being off balance.
The Solution:Eccentric squats are a great way to help strengthen the descent phase of the squat. This exercise is performed exactly like a regular back squat, with one important difference: when descending into the squat, you want to take an exaggerated amount of time – up to 10 seconds – to lower yourself into the squat. Once you reach the bottom position, reverse directions and stand up as explosively as possible. This exercise is very tiring, so don’t do more than five or six repetitions a set.
3. Being Too Weak In The Bottom Position
When we aren’t strong enough in the bottom position of the squat, we do things to compensate. We may lean forward too much, disturbing balance. We may try to rise up with our hips moving faster than our shoulders, causing back strain. We may also bring our knees in towards each other when standing up, causing undue stress on the connective tissues of the knees. Any of these mistakes are bad and limit your performance or worse, leave you injured.
The Solution: The pause squat is an exercise that can fix this. Perform this exercise just like the back squat, with one important difference: pause for two to three seconds in the bottom position before standing up as explosively as possible. While there, focus on remaining tight. Again, this exercise is very tiring, so choose weight loads wisely and don’t do more than five or six repetitions a set.