Perfecting the perfect squat is something that many individuals struggle with day in and day out.  Well, I had the same confusion when I first started learning squats. However, with a little bit of instruction and step-by-step directions, I got the facts straight and soon learned the techniques to to squatting.

Now you should not get scared because I just did not use the word pain, which many individuals tend to correlate with when they think of squats. What I intend to say is that proper squatting will lead to discomfort, but not pain. This is an indicator that you are doing it right and if you ever feel pain, then you need to check your form. The old knowledge is “no pain, no gain,” but the truth is, the only pain your should feel following squats is moderate soreness.

In order to push yourself to the next level and to learn good, sound squatting techniques, you will need to understand how to first complete a proper squat, but also to not over extend your body.  Lets take a look at some of the “rules” for squatting so that you can master the best exercise out there.

The rules are to give a safe, maximal effort

The following are the key rules to follow when exerting to the maximum during your squats.

  • The body is only able to exert a certain amount of effort with each exercise, but if you push your body beyond its limit, then you risk injuries.  Your maximal effort should be your effort alone and should involve what you are able to do within reason.
  • Make it a point never to jerk, twist, or contort during your squats. You need to understand that these movements are a . The muscles need to be work together to complete the lift. If our form is off or if the muscles are not working together, then there is more of a risk of injury.
  • Remember do not get too ambitious when you first get started.  Trying to progress your lifts quicker than what your body can handle is a path towards injury and poor form.

Perfect your footing

The most essential step of learning how to squat is to understand where your feet need to be to set your squats up for perfection. After all, the main goal in perfecting the squat is to be able to carefully lower your body and lift with swift, controlled movements. Once we identify the ideal stance width that best suits us, then we are ready to move on to the next step. Your footing needs to be around shoulder width apart, but not too far or too close.  Point your toes out to the side to get some advantage in your inner thighs and notice the difference.  If you find that you are off balance at any time, consider racking your weight and starting over.  You need a solid stance and good footing in order to succeed.

The rule of thumb with your squats

Over the years, I have learned that keeping the squats easy to start with is the best rule of thumb.  To make your squats easy to start with, you should lower down lightly, maybe about half of the way down.  This will help to develop leg strength and can help you to accomplish the form you desire.  If you need to start with further assistance, consider a high bench behind you or a machine that can get you started.  Lastly, some find it easier to use their own body weight to learn proper form; using body weight reduces the risk of injury and can help you to hit your goals much quicker.

Starting your Squats

Here is how to start off (for visual learners, see the picture shown below):

Make use of a vertical pole and stand in front of it. The hands should be placed on the pole at waist height. Now we need to squat down. Once we reach the bottom point then we need to sit down with the upper torso upright in a good posture. Your knees will and should be bent at a right angle at this point so use this as a mid-form guide.  If this is a tad challenging to start (and it could be, then consider using more of the pole for assistance.  The pole is your guide to keeping your glutes back and maintaining proper form.

squatting

Source: strongmedicine.dragondoor

The prescription for squats

Initially it is better to start with three sets of about ten body weight squats. However, after about 7-10 days with a regular routine, it is natural for your muscles to adjust and you will need to progress in order to make gains. The following table will give you a basic idea on how to progress your squats.

Week #Load Reps
1.Ten pound dumbbellThree sets of  three reps
2.Ten pound dumbbellThree sets of  about five reps and so on

Keeping your squat form

We need to understand that if we wish to get the optimal results, then we need to follow the squatting technique to the precise directions, as closely as possible.

  • The kettlebell (if using a kettlebell) needs to be tucked tight in to the torso and tight under the chin.  Need more help with this form?  Look up goblet squat.
  • It is best to inhale while lowering the body and the knees should slowly bend to lower the body down.
  • The glutes and hamstrings need to contract to their maximal effort, which happens during the lowering and elevating phases. This will happen when you try lower your glutes down as if you are trying to sit down on a chair.
  • Once we have lowered down we need to exhale, relax, pause and then we can easily sink further down.
  • Even in the relaxed mode the torso needs to be upright in a good posture.
  • Now it is time to take a brief pause.
  • Now we can easily rise from the lowered position.  he previous two instructions should happen pretty quickly, so do not take too much time on these.
  • When we are elevating, the thighs should be opened up slightly to an angle, or so the toes point out to the side.  Both will work in this case.
  • Do not lock your knees when you complete your squat; rather, keep them straight, but do not lock them.

squatting

Source: strongmedicine.dragondoor

If we follow the basic forms, as described above, then squatting will become more efficient. However, we need to understand that in order to master the squat, we need to perfect good form before adding more weight or reps. All of us have our physical limitations and initially it can be hard for us to beat our limitations, but understanding what our own bodies can do is crucial in any exercise. The rule is to be consistent and keep on trying to get the best results, but with the best effort and best form possible. In this way, we will be able to get the best results to achieve our goals.

Professional trainer, ex cross-fitter and a long time calisthenic practitioner. I started with Convict Conditioning and achieved levels of strength which enabled me to take part in street workouts championships. Check Out our Resources and Start Building Real Strength just using your Bodyweight!
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