Although a squat is relatively simple, the nuances in your technique will help you hit the right muscles and prevent injury. The squat is the number one strength training exercise that leads to injuries so doing it properly should be your top priority. You don’t want to mess with your back – spinal injuries are one of the hardest injuries to come back from. There are several types of squats to choose from, whether you’re looking to primarily focus on the glutes, hamstrings, quads or calves. So, where should you start?
Always start off light.
Before you master the technique, try practicing with just your bodyweight or the barbell to help maintain balance. Alternatively, you could also do ball squats which will help you bring it lower and activate more glutes and hamstrings. If you still feel that squatting isn’t safe for you, I would recommend starting with hamstring curls and extensions to build up your strength before moving on to squats.
- Getting started. Grab the bar tight with a medium grip. Place the bar on your upper-back by dipping under the bar. Keep your chest raised.
- Unrack it by straightening your legs. Step back with straight legs. Lock your hips and knees.
- Your knees should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing slightly outwards. Take a big breath, hold it and Squat down. Push your knees out while moving your hips back. Keep your spine (lower back) completely neutral. Keep your feel flat but place the brunt of the weight on your heels.
- Break Parallel. Squat down until your hips are below your knees. (Picture yourself sitting down in a chair). Bringing your thighs parallel to the ground isn’t low enough to activate your glutes. You must break parallel.
- Squat Up. Break parallel then Squat back up. Keep your knees out and chest up. Lock your hips and knees at the top. Breathe.
As I mentioned earlier, using the ball is really good for keeping your spine neutral and activating your glutes. It’s one of the few variations of squats where people can get in a full range of motion. You can also pulse at the bottom of the movement to really add intensity to your set.
Inner Thighs Squat
Just like normal squats, inner thigh squats can also be performed using a physio ball. Hold a dumbell in a star-shaped grip with your arms hanging down between your legs, keep your legs about shoulder length plus a half, and toes pointed outward away from your body. Lower yourself until the weight touches the floor or go to a range or motion that you’re comfortable with. It may feel a little awkward and tight at first. You may wish to do some light stretching before performing this exercise.
Wall sits are definitely a quad killer no matter your level. You can load up on the weight with a kettlebell or dumbells. All you have to do is have your back flat up against a wall, squat so your legs are parallel with the floor and hold for as long as possible. The lower you bring yourself, the more it will focus on the quads and also incorporate some glute and hamstring work.
Alright, so hopefully you’re now a squat master. Now try it out and let us know if you feel the difference.