Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The art of squatting

Squatting should be a corner stone exercise of any training program.

A quality squat requires the elements of mobility and stability to be in balance. Speaking of balance - you need a lot of that too.

A certain amount of strength is also an important component of squatting, and when you bring together all of these elements, you have a truly challenging, yet effective, exercise.

The big problem is that most people cannot execute a squat correctly as a result of muscle tightness or muscle weakness, or a combination of the two.

For starters, keep these basic pointers in mind while you are squatting:
  1. Select a foot width that works for you - the recommendation is to keep the feet hip to shoulder width apart, but our anatomies are not all the same, so make adjustments to accommodate this fact.
  2. On the downward phase of the movement:
    • Knees follow (track) the toes. Work hard to keep the knees from collapsing inward (called Valgus loading)
    • Allow for a small amount of forward bend at the waist (trunk flexion). Remember however, you are not lifting the weight using your lower back!
    • Keep the head looking straight ahead of you. Looking down will push you into forward bending (flexion).
  3. Breathing - Exhale as you push upwards, inhale as you move downwards

Executing a quality squat emerges from the body being able to move through a full range of motion - from ankle to head. Have good flexibility and mobility is key.

It also requires us to possess a certain degree of stability to be able to move the resistance.

Working on joint stability and overall body stability will have a huge impact on your squat mechanics.

Always strive to maintain good biomechanics from the start to end of the movement - this is when the optimal gains in performance will be achieved.

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