Proper Squat Form: Common Mistakes You Might Be Making

family practicing proper squat form in the living roomEverybody requires to squat.

The squat is a fundamental human motion pattern and resting position. See a child research study the ant path on the ground, and they don’t flex over to glare at it. They squat down and being in that squat position conveniently for as long as it takes. See Hadza tribesmen cook and share meat around the fire. They aren’t resting on camp chairs. They aren’t standing awkwardly. They’re being in a squat, comfy as can be. Go to lots of Asian nations and you’ll see routine individuals, even senior individuals, being in a complete squat as they wait on the bus or go to with good friends.

To squat is to be human. It is to check out and populate the complete series of our body’s movement. It is to stay mobile, nimble, and successfully young. If you can accomplish and being in a complete squat at age 70, you’ll remain in the 99th percentile and, ideally, prevent the majority of aging’s physical devastations and performance degenerations.

Crouching is likewise an extraordinary workout that targets every muscle in the body, especially when you do so with included weight. Glutes, hamstrings, quads. Core, lumbar, traps. Because of that, crouching is exceptionally anabolic, implying it supplies a total-body hypertrophic stimulus. Anecdotally, individuals report growing muscle all over after getting a routine crouching practice, even those muscles that aren’t straight included.

However whether you’re crouching simply to preserve the capability to move into that position or crouching to train, you require to do it with correct type.


Appropriate Squat Type

The fundamental type for squats, whether you’re bring a load or doing with with simply bodyweight:

Feet about shoulder width apart.

This can differ. What I like to do to identify the optimum range in between the feet for crouching is to take an action, collect your feet, and envision you’re about to leap as high as you can. Stop, and look down at your feet. How far apart are they? That’s an excellent location to begin. However for many people, this will have to do with shoulder width.

Toes flaring out about 5-20 degrees.

Toes should be pointing mostly forward, with some wiggle room (5-20 degrees). If you have “duck feet” and your toes flare out far to the sides, you run the risk of your knees caving inward and seriously shortchange your power (and safety). The wider your foot stance, the more your feet should be turned out.

“Screw your feet into the ground.”

With the feet planted, “screw” your right foot clockwise into the ground and your left foot counter-clockwise into the ground.

This can also be described as “spread the floor.”

Core tight.

A squat doesn’t work very well if your core is fluid and floppy. You need to be a solid, cohesive piece. That means having a flat back, engaged abdominal muscle complex, engaged lumbar muscles, and a neutral spine. You need to brace before you squat and stay tight throughout the entire movement.

Neutral head position.

The neck is part of the spine. Don’t forget to keep a neutral head position.

Hips back.

You “sit back” when you squat, as if you’re reaching for a chair behind you with your butt. You break at the hips first, not the knees.

Knees lined up with feet—”knees out”

Your knees should line up with your feet. If you find your knees caving inward (valgus), which can be devastating to your knee health, the cue “knees out” will help.

Chest up.

Keeping your chest up will help you maintain a neutral spine and “aim” you in the right direction as you rise from the squat. This becomes especially important when you have weight on your shoulders.

Go as deep as you can without form breakdown.

Some individuals will get all the way ass to grass before their form breaks down. Others will barely break parallel before their back starts rounding. Go as low as feels safe.

Common Squat Mistakes

What are some common squat mistakes and how can you fix them?

Breaking at the knees first.

The first joint to “break” in a movement is the joint that accepts the majority of the load. When attempting a squat, the average person with no experience squatting and a lifetime of sitting in chairs will start bending the knees before the hips. This places the bulk of the load on the knees, a relatively weaker joint.

If you break at the hips first, you place the bulk of the load onto the posterior chain/hip complex, which is much stronger than the knee joint.

Imagine there’s a chair behind you and you’re reaching back with your butt to find it. That’s how a squat must feel, and it’s how you cue yourself to break at the hips.

Letting your knees cave in.

As I mentioned above, your knees must stay in line with your feet during a squat. When they cave inward, also known as “valgus,” you disrupt the transference of force, almost like putting a “kink” in a hose.

Valgus knee during a bodyweight squat might not be catastrophic. It can actually be a normal movement pattern in a resting squat, especially if you know what you’re doing. But with added weight or at a high speed, knee valgus is a great way to tear a meniscus.

To avoid knee valgus, think of the cue “knees out.” Another good cue is “press the lateral heel,” meaning feel and focus on the outer half of your heel pressing into the ground. Doing so will enforce your knees staying in line with your feet.

Squatting with tight calves.

When your calves are tight, your ankle dorsiflexion (bringing toes toward shins) is poor. Squatting with poor ankle dorsiflexion is a bad idea for a couple reasons. First, if you can’t dorsiflex, you won’t be able to keep your heels on the ground. You’ll come up onto your toes, which can place a ton of undue pressure on the knee joint—especially if you’re squatting under a load. Second, you’ll have a hard time keeping an upright torso posture. Some “lean” is normal and expected, but squatting with really tight calves will force you to lean so far forward that you drop the weight or bend at the lower back.

Fix your calves before you do any serious squatting. Work on your ankle mobility.

Head and neck out of neutral.

People can have their torso in the best position, perfect knee placement, good hip drive, but their head and neck are all over the place. To fix this, pick a spot on the wall ahead of you and keep your eyes on it throughout the movement. This mitigates your tendency to look around and move your head and neck out of neutral.

Rising with hips first.

I see this a lot. Rather than rise up from the squat as a single cohesive piece, people will rise with the hips while leaning forward at the torso. This turns the squat into more of a deadlift or good morning, and it takes the legs out of the equation and places a ton of stress on the lower back.

Think of “chest up” as you rise and you will ascend as a single cohesive piece.

Bracing at the wrong time.

Remember how I said to get your core and back and entire torso tight prior to you squat in order to create a cohesive lever for moving the weight?

All too often people will get under a bar, accept the load on their shoulders, and then try to brace. Your body is already compromised with the weight; you can’t truly get tight with 300 pounds on your shoulders. You have to get tight and brace before you accept the weight.

Not breaking parallel.

When you only squat to parallel, you are placing a ton of stress on the knee. Research indicates that the greatest compressive and shear forces acting on a knee during a squat occur at 90 degrees, or parallel. Beyond 90 degrees (deeper), the compressive and shearing forces actually get smaller.

Now consider that people are able to squat a lot more weight when they only go to parallel, so they’re placing a ton more force on the knee than the person who squats past parallel with less weight.

It’s probably safer to stop short of parallel than it is to stop at parallel.

Collapsing at end range, or “dropping” into the bottom.

The descent of a squat should be controlled. If you’re dropping or collapsing into the bottom of a squat, you are more likely to get injured, get slack, and get sloppy.

Slower down, faster up.

I hope this article helps your squat, whether you’re trying to lift heavy or simply improve your mobility as you age. Happy squatting!


About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle motion, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo motion back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long included to this report.