Squat Cues For Beginners: What Are They?
The squat is one of the most effective exercises for building strength and muscle mass. However, it’s not always easy to learn how to do it correctly. If you’re new to squats, you may have trouble with proper form or even get injured doing them because they are so taxing on your joints. You need to start off right! Here are some tips on how to properly perform a squat properly.
How To Perform A Proper Squat
There are three main things you want to focus on when performing a squat: Your knees, hips, and ankles. These three areas must all work together in order for the rest of your body to stay upright during the movement. All other factors such as weight, grip width, etc., will affect these three points only slightly.
Your knees should never bend too far inward (towards your toes) while you’re squatting. When this happens, your legs become shorter than they should be. This causes you to lose balance and fall forward into the floor. Your feet should remain flat on the ground throughout the entire movement. Your heels shouldn’t touch the ground at any time during a squat, but rather move up and down along with your knees and hips.
Your hips and shoulders should remain level at all times. There are some people who are genetically built in a way that allows them to keep their shoulders parallel with the floor while squatting. If you aren’t one of those people, you’ll need to place a couple of 2×4’s under your heels in order to achieve this level stance.
Your ankles should remain stable while your feet move. The last thing you want is for your ankle to twist during a heavy squat. This is another reason why you need to keep your heels elevated when performing this exercise.
How To Not Perform A Proper Squat
There are a lot of different approaches to the squat, but all of them should involve the legs bending at the knees and hips similar to how you would sit in a chair. The back should remain straight and not move. The chest should stay up and open while the shoulders should be back. You also should not have to bend over or place your hands on your knees in order to squat down low enough to grab the bar.
There are several things you shouldn’t be doing when performing a squat. If you’re doing any of the following, you need to stop it immediately or suffer the consequences.
The first thing you shouldn’t be doing is having a wide stance. While this can help with stabilizing the core of your body, it causes an extreme outward motion of the knees and ankles that can easily throw your body out of position. Most people naturally do this without realizing what they’re doing wrong.
The next thing you shouldn’t be doing is keeping your torso parallel to the floor throughout the entire exercise. While this may work if you’re just trying to add a few pounds here and there to your basic leg press, it’s not the best way to perform a proper squat.
The third thing you shouldn’t be doing is lifting your knees too high as if you were jogging in place. While this may help to lift more weight, it throws your body out of proper alignment and can cause long-term damage to your knees and ankles.
Finally, you shouldn’t be rounding your back while performing a squat. This is dangerous and can easily cause injury. Most people who do this have an already weakened back or spine from previous injuries.
How To Progress While Squatting
Once you’ve developed these four basic factors, you can start to add weight and really get the most out of your squats. You should always begin by warming up with a few sets of ten reps with no weight at all. This will help prepare your body and joints for the lifting to come.
The next step is to add weight according to your strength level. If you’re a beginner, try adding two or three ten pound plates onto the bar. If you’re more advanced, try five to ten pounds instead.
From there, perform another set of ten reps. After a brief pause, add another ten pounds for your third set. This will be your new “working weight”. Try to perform the best set of ten reps you can. Some days you’ll be stronger than others, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not able to add as much weight as you first thought.
After your last set, you’ll need to add more weight in order to continue reaping the benefits. If you were able to complete your third set with ease, add another five pounds to each side of the bar for your next workout. If you struggled to finish your third set, hold off on adding weight until the next time you train.
Make sure you’re eating enough food and getting plenty of rest in order to maximize the benefits of squatting. Also remember to keep your body well-hydrated throughout the day.
If you can follow these guidelines, you should see some great results with just a few weeks of training. Try to work out at least four times each week. As your body gets stronger, you’ll able to increase the weight that you use. This will allow you to continue building lean muscle mass and improving your endurance.
Remember to take the proper safety precautions when performing a squat. Never allow more than fifty percent of your weight to rest on the supports at once. If you’re struggling with a weight that’s too heavy, have a training partner help you by holding on to some of your weight.
Don’t allow your knees to go past your toes while squatting. This can cause permanent damage and may stop you from training in the future. If your joints hurt during or after squatting, take a break and try again later. If the pain persists, consult a physician.
Squatting is extremely strenuous on your muscles and joints. It’s important to take time off every now and then to let your body recover. If you don’t, you risk over-training injuries. Also remember to warm up before each training session. This will help prevent injury while allowing you to train at full capacity.
Does the idea of weight training scare you away, or are you eager to start adding size to your body?
Either way, keep these tips in mind while you’re training. Remember, it usually takes most people a few months to get used to a new routine. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Stay positive and focused and you’ll achieve your goals in no time.
Sources & references used in this article:
THE SQUAT: FUNCTIONAL AND EFFECTIVE by MA Dave Mansfield – image.aausports.org
The back squat part 2: Targeted training techniques to correct functional deficits and technical factors that limit performance by AM Kushner, JL Brent, BJ Schoenfeld… – Strength and …, 2015 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
The lumbar and sacrum movement pattern during the back squat exercise by MR McKean, PK Dunn… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2010 – cdn.journals.lww.com