Squats have the power to ‘make’ or ‘break’ you…
Okely dokely I must admit i’m guilty of this… always raving about how amazing squats are! It’s true the squat is a fantastic exercise for a multitude of reasons. For example squats work the entire leg region and they also have the potential to burn a ton of calories!
The trouble is, on the flip side they have the power to damage your knees, cause postural imbalances and crush your spine! Not good. The reality is that most people doing squats are not ready to do them (yet!, a leg press machine is better for beginners) and should avoid them for reasons i’m going to explain in this post…
1) Weak glutes and hamstrings
The glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back of the thighs) are located at the back of the leg (see image above). These two muscles are often neglected, especially by those of us who sit down for most of the day, either driving or sat down at a desk. Over time they become inactive, and weak. Typically this means the body overcompensates by using the lower back muscles more.
What happens when you squat with weak hamstrings and glutes? Well.. a lot of the pressure goes to areas you don’t want like the lower back and knees. When we perform squats we’re actually looking to stimulate not only the thighs but also the glutes and hamstrings. The trouble is when our posterior leg muscles are weak, and inactive we fail to stimulate them properly during the squat. Overtime this can lead to a whole host of problems like injury, plateau’s, etc.
2) Poor Posture
Instead of being upright, many of us slouch forward. It’s possible to be born with poor posture, but more commonly it develops over time. Poor habits and weak/inactive muscles accompanied with plenty of repetition can force our bodies to adopt a poor posture.
Muscles at the front of the body like the chest, and thighs become tight, consequently rounding our shoulders forward and in some cases creating a forward head tilt (see image below)
Add a barbell onto the back of someone with poor posture, and get them to squat and your asking for trouble! Your simply going to exacerbate the problem even further.
3) Tightness in the hips and thighs
Another detrimental byproduct of sitting down all day is that our muscles shorten and tighten up, which subsequently inhibits our movement. In other words our squat technique is going to suffer. Somebody who sit’s down for most of the day (and doesn’t stretch) will typically have tight hip flexors and thigh muscles. When it comes to squatting this issue will typically inhibit the depth of your squat, meaning you’ll find it difficult to squat low enough to truly benefit from the exercise.
The Bottom Line…
There’s no doubt about it squats are an amazing exercises, the problem is that most people are not ready to perform them correctly. In my next post I explain how to build up to the perfect squat by sharing some key tips, tricks and exercises – click here to read the full post now