by Sean St. Onge
After informing a client of their impending doom, (simply told her about her training regimen for the session), her reply was, "Oh I suck at squats! I hate them!" My retort was, "tell me WHY you feel they SUCK?"
More often than not, the general public view of squatting is usually one of disdain. This, in my opinion, is due to a couple of things: poor education of what a PROPER squat is and poor preparation.
Squatting is a complicated, and often disliked, movement when using weight. Hell, for some people it is down-right awful just doing it with your bodyweight. If you are or were among this category of people...why? MORE OVER, what have you done to suppress such hatred for a fairly common movement we all have to do day after day?
I mean do you make THIS face when you squat? More importantly, do you look this awful wardrobe-wise? I mean, come on, the only guy to pull off a yellow tank tops usually rips them in half and then flexes. (Hooray for random Hulk Hogan reference!)
Do you KNOW why they suck? Maybe you don't. Here are a few causes for having such a disdain for doing them:
1. Tight Hips.
2. Tight Ankles.
3. Poor Adductor and Abductor strength.
4. Little/No use of foam rollers.
5. Little/No use of stretching or pre-activation drills.
6. Your occupation "requires" you to sit for 6 to 8 hours per day.
and most of all....
7. You have no proper knowledge of what type of squat is "proper."
When squatting with or without a load, you want to hinge your hips back so that your weight is shifted to your heels. As you descend slowly, "spread the floor" with your knees and push them away from your body as you sit back as if there were a chair behind you. All the while, keep your head in a neutral position to not put strain on your neck and continue to keep your chest upright. For balance, your arms can extend forward as needed if being performed without a load. Also, on your descent, you want to brace your abs and inhale. Upon ascension, push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes.
So simple an infant can do it!
Now to touch on what a "proper" squat is. Many have been told by other trainers, media, socialites, that squatting "below parallel" is bad for your knees. With every squat variation and loading, when it comes to squat depth, it all depends. Would you want and/or need a heaping load of 400lbs on John Q. Public's back for a back squat to complete a "ass to grass" squat? Then again, it depends if that particular person can handle that kind of spinal loading and is able to move through their hips to get to that depth carefully without causing pain or their chest, shoulders, without pitching forward to the point where the squat form is compromised and pressure is shifted into the toes, knees, neck, and lower back.
Too many repetitions, too heavy a load, poor form, and lack of education of the exercise can contribute to one of these compromises in the exercise. So all in all, best bet is to ask yourselves..."Am I doing this properly?" If you're not sure, ask for help. "Does it hurt my knees or back when I squat?" If so, ask for help. Most of all..."DID I DO MY PRE-ACTIVATION DRILLS AND FOAM ROLLING?" If no, DO IT. If you don't know what they are, ask for help.
Those are...pretty key!
Please visit 212HealthandPerformance.com and enjoy my same titled The Boiling Point episode for activation drills and stretches.