The King of all exercises…
So in part 1 I talked all about why squats are bad for you and why you should avoid them! The main reason I said they were bad was due to the fact that most people are simply not ready to perform the squatting movement correctly. Truth be told they are a fantastic exercise, you just need to ensure you’ve:
- Built up a strong base of strength in the hamstrings and glutes
- Developed adequate flexibility for the movement
Practice these 3 tips below and you’ll be squatting like a champ in no time!
1) Strengthen the posterior chain…
Practice the exercises below to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings:
a. Static Glute Bridge
- Lying down on the floor, cross your arms and bend you knees to 90 degrees, keep your feet firmly planted on the floor
- Push yourself up into the bridge position (shown in the picture) and contract your glutes and hamstrings by pushing down into the floor
- Stay in this static position for the duration of your set making sure to tense your glutes throughout
b. One Legged Glute Raise
- Lying down on your back lift one leg straight in the air and bend the other leg to 90 degrees
- With the bent leg start to push down into the floor so your hamstrings and glutes contract
- Slowly lift your butt off the floor until you can’t go any higher
- Pause at the top of the rep for 2 seconds
- Slowly lower yourself back to the ground
c. Dumbbell Hamstring Deadlift
- Pick up a pair of DB’s
- Stand up straight and freeze your upper body (lock it in place), bend your knees slightly, then lock your legs in place
- Hinge back using the hips, maintain a neutral spine and focus on pushing the hips backwards to gain a hamstring stretch
- At the bottom position push hard into the floor and squeeze your hamstrings and gluteus maximus as your return to the starting position
2) Foam Roll & Stretch…
Releasing tight muscle tissue can make way for improved movement in the squat position. Next time you train legs try spending 10-15 minutes before each session rolling out the thigh muscles, lower back, and pecs. Here’s some great exercises to try and video demonstrations…
Thigh Foam Rolling:
Back Foam Rolling:
Pec Foam Rolling:
In terms of improving flexibility check out this awesome post by Mike Matthews – How to Improve Flexibility and Mobility for Squatting
3) Split Squats
One of my favourite exercises to build up to the squat. Done properly the spilt squat strengthens all the muscles in the legs. One of the many benefits of this exercise is that your working each leg individually. Typically most of us have one leg stronger than the other, this then inhibits our two legged squat. If we can build each leg separately and bridge the imbalance as best as possible then we are much more likely to squat efficiently.
Are Your Ready?
Once you’ve built up enough strength, and addressed any potential issues that can affect your squat your now ready for action! Check out one of my favourite videos below by Dr Layne Norton which teaches you how to squat correctly.