If you’ve worked out in any gym across the country, I am sure you’ve heard the term “ass to grass!” being yelled at someone who was struggled to bring their asses to the earth and shoot up to a starting position in a safe manner. Figure 1 shows a great depiction of that.
Figure 1: A person with a deep squat from Pinterest
By definition, a squat is a strength exercise in which the trainee lowers their hips from a standing position and then stands back up. There are many types of squats you can perform in the gym or anywhere there is a solid surface to sand on.
The high bar back squat is the usual strength exercise people would do in the gym. But, we also have the front squat, zercher squat, low bar back squat and the overhead squat for barbell-specific exercises.
If you’re like me and love to use dumbbells, you have different options as well. There are over 45 different variations, but there is no point to name them all here. However, the main ones you would want to focus on to build strength include the goblet squat, arms-to-side, racked position, dumbbell sumo squats, dumbbell split squats and dumbbell side squats.
All of these squats provide different benefits for your body including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and core. Let’s discuss the three main benefits that will help you both inside and outside of the gym.
Sometimes (most times) in life, we take the small things for granted. Being able to bend down to pick up your young child and reaching to the top of the fridge for cereal to feed your family are daily tasks that matter only when you can no longer do it.
Performing squat exercises on a regular basis, once or twice a week, will help you with some of these movements and will improve your mobility overall. Your hip mobility will increase while doing deep squats. Your shoulder mobility will improve by doing overhead squats.
There is no need to ego lift, either. If you are a beginner, start with the barbell first. Work on your mobility until you are parallel or below parallel. At that point, you can begin to increase weight.
Improve Core Strength
Besides mobility, your core is one of the most important parts of your body as it relates to exercise and life outside of the gym. Your inner/outer obliques, transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis and the erector spinae make up your core. Squatting provides an incredible benefit by improving the strength of your core.
Figure 2: Diagram from Foothills Orthopedic and Sport Therapy
The erector spinae muscles activate during the squat. It is the reason why you don’t fall forward on your eccentric (down) movement. This part of your core, as well as your transverse abdominis, are activated more than in a plank or weighted sit-up.
The amount of tension you’re applying to your core allows you to maintain an “erect” or “semi-erect” position while moving up and down during the exercise. Be sure to apply this same motion when picking up anything off of the ground.
Now let’s put all of this together to learn how to perform a proper squat. Of course, if you have ailments or challenges with this exercise, be sure to consult a trainer at your local gym to help determine the best range of motion or substitute for you.
8 Steps to Perform a Perfect Squat
The form we’re about to describe below works with all forms of squatting. While the motion is rather simple, there are positioning techniques and signs you should be aware of if you plan on adding weight in the future.
- Hold your chest and head high. Find a spot on the wall in front of you and stare at it. This helps especially when you’re squatting heavy weights.
- Pull your shoulders back and down. Pretend you’re assuming a sturdy twerk position.
- Be sure to keep your spine neutral. Don’t stick your ass out, but don’t round your back either.
- Un-rack the weight. If you’re performing a dumbbell squat, make sure to grasp the dumbbell firmly.
- Assume the ready position prior to your descent. Ensure your body is prepared to take accommodate the load.
- Shift your weight to your heels. Keep your toes on the floor. Tighten your core.
- Lower your body down as though there was a chair underneath your ass.
- Keep the core tight and rise from that position to complete the movement.
Recommendations for your proper squat
Now that you’ve successfully completed a squat with impeccable technique, here are a few tips from Achromous Fitness that will assist you moving forward.
- If you’re performing back squats with a barbell, make sure the bar is sitting on the “shelf” on your back to help the weight transfer properly throughout your body.
- If you’re performing a low bar back squat, make sure you’re leaning forward at a 45 degree angle with a wide stance.
- When squatting heavy, fill your diaphragm with air before you descend and exhale on the way up.
- Don’t ego lift. Build your foundation on proper form and technique with a sensible rep and set count before increasing weight.
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