Known in gym circles as The king of all exercises. The question is how do you start on the road of Squat mastery? Let’s take a good look at why you should squat, how to squat, and starting your squat training.
Why You Should Be Squatting
Everyone tells you that you should be squatting, and most beginner trainees will obey the advice on the internet. However, if you know the reasons why squatting is so incredible, it will give you some more focus, and a better mental template to train from. So, before we ask how to squat, let’s ask why?
Legs. If you are a beginner trainee, you may be very tempted to hit as many chest and bicep workouts as it humanly possible. We all understand that you want to look good on the beach. However, if you are regularly missing out on squats you won’t look nearly as good as you want to. Squats will build the foundation of an impressive set of legs. People who don’t train legs look different, they look weak, they look disproportionate, and they can’t wear shorts…ever. Squatting will make sure that you don’t look like a human lollipop.
Strength. Squats build strength. Not just in your legs, but in your core, your back, your neck, pretty much everywhere. This is a primal movement pattern, it is a natural movement for the body, and as a result, training this movement will result in a stronger, more muscular body. It doesn’t matter what your training goals are, this move will help you get there.
Sport. Perhaps you are training for a sport, football, MMA, Rugby, anything. The foundation of all these sports relies on strong and explosive legs, glutes and hips. Squatting will help you develop these skills. Whether you need to run faster, tackle harder, or ground yourself better for a punch, squats will be useful.
Your body. We’ve talked about squats being useful for pretty much everything. This also includes people wanting to lose fat. If your main concern is losing fat, then squats will ramp up your metabolism, and cause a huge hormonal response. This will help the fat fall off your body. Convinced yet? Well you should be.
How To Squat
There are a few basic pointers that you should be aware of to successfully perform a back squat.
Feet and Hands
Your feed should be roughly shoulder width apart, if you need to go wider, then go wider. Your hands should be a few inches wider than shoulder width, again, if you need to go wider, you may. You should feel firmly planted on the ground, and your hands tight on the bar.
The bar should be on your mid to lower traps. This can also be changed, but start in the middle, and readjust if you need to.
• Load the bar onto your back. Your shoulders should be tensed, and your entire back should be tightened. It is important to make sure you are very tense and firm at this point.
• Walk the bar out from the stand.
• Take a deep breath, inflate your abs, and hold it like that, again, tensed and firm.
• Keep your head looking at one point ahead of you for the whole movement
• Squat down until the top of your hip bone is in line with your knee. Go further if you are flexible enough.
• Focus on pushing your knees outwards, feeling a stretch in your inner thigh.
• Make sure that your weight is distributed on the center and back of your foot.
• On the way up, drive forward, use your hips to push.
• Go back to the original position, don’t tense your glutes at the top.
• Exhale. (You’ve been holding your breathe this whole time)
Things like bar placement, foot position, and hand placement, can all be modified over tine. Stick with the above suggestions for know, and if later on you feel you want to change them, use trial and error to perfect your unique style.
Where to Begin
So we’ve discussed how to squat, however many people do not have the sufficient flexibility and strength to jump straight into barbell back squats. If this describes you, or if you are a beginner in the gym, pay attention to the following program to get yourself up to speed.
1. Deep squat holding on to something. Just getting in to the squat position is something many find hard. So a way to start would be to hold onto something in front of you, and go into a deep squat position. Keep your core engaged, and focus on pushing your knees out and keeping your back straight.
2. Once you have mastered the first move, move onto doing it without holding on to anything.
3. Squat with a broomstick on your back. If that is difficult, try putting a small board under your heels. The board only needs to be around 3 cm, but it will help with the movement.
4. Goblet Squats. These are the best movement to teach your body the squat pattern. This involves holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of you, like you are drinking from a large goblet. Then you squat down nice and deep. Doing this for a few weeks will give you a huge advantage with your ongoing squatting.
5. The DeFranco Agile 8. This is something you should be doing regularly all the time. This goes for far beyond your beginner years.
You know now why, and how to squat. There are hundreds of programs out there, you can use any of them, as long as you stick to it! For beginners, one of the most widely used programs is 5×5. It focuses on squatting 3 times per week, and will help you ingrain the pattern into your mind, and to start using a little weight.
Now, it is time for you to get in that squat rack, learn the proper technique, and with some hard work and patience you will have become proficient at the most important tool in your training arsenal bar none.