How to do the Perfect Squat, by Sam Parren

As a trainer I so often see squats performed badly;
Knees going over the toes
Back rounded
Knees not tracking the toes
Knees knocking inwards or going out
Backside going too low or not low enough

With incorrect form you place too much stress on the knees and lower back. You will also find the muscles are not working effectively so therefore you are unable to reap the benefits. Squats are a natural everyday movement, so why are we so bad?

As adults we carry a lot more stress and tension, also we will have muscle imbalances and inactivity. If you watch a toddler perform a squat, the do it with fluidity, they have a straight back and great flexibility through their hips, knees & ankles with their backside near the ground. They can often sit in a deep squat position for a long period. Ask as adult to perform the same and they will literally fall on to their backside!

With the correct exercises and appropriate massages we can improve our flexibility which will help to improve form. (This we will discuss at a later date.)
So how do you perform the ideal Squat when you have lost that flexibility and carry a stressed body?

Sam Barbell Squat

Standard Squat
Stand with your feet hip width apart (use a mirror if no one is there to guide you) Think of folding through your hips first, as if you’re about to sit on something. Then bend the knees and ankles. Keeping the back straight, go down as far is comfortable make sure the knees remain behind your toes. Aim for a 90 degree angle through the knee so your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. To bring yourself back up push the weight up through your heels, contracting your glutes and hamstrings.

Sumo Squats
Stand with your feet wider than hip width apart feet pointing out slightly, this time leading with your knees bending first and thinking of dropping your weight down rather than back. Imagine you’re trapped with a pane of glass in front and behind so the only option is to go down. Make sure your knees remain behind your toes.

Narrow Squats
Stand with your feet and knees together and squat the same as you would for the standard squat.

Jumping Squats – NB* do not perform this is you have any problems with your joints
Go down in to a normal squat, then thinking of having springs in your feet/ ankles pushing away from the floor to a jump. Then land softly with bent knees to help absorb the impact. Imagine yourself as landing so quietly.

1 legged squat

This is a good exercise for runners and as part of rehab (if agreed with medical person). Lifting 1 leg off the floor, on the supporting leg perform the squat as you did the standard squat. You may want to hold onto something for balance. Be aware you may not be able to go as low.

Remembering to consider your form, only pick up weights once you can safely perform body-weight squats.  If in doubt ask one of our Fit For Moore trainers to observe your squat. Check out our video on YouTube which shows you the correct form.