The
barbell squat is one of the “Big Three” exercises and a staple in
any effective leg workout. While it is the best exercise for your
lower body, it can also be one of the most dangerous. It is a complex
movement, and there is a lot of room for error, but with a little bit
of practice you can master this exercise.
Avoid
these five common mistakes and you will be squatting your way to a
powerful lower body in no time!
Mistake One: Not Going
Low Enough
The
biggest mistake that people make when squatting is loading up the bar
with a lot of weight, but failing to reach a proper depth. In order
to activate the hamstrings and glutes and prevent developing a
muscular imbalance, it is important to squat until your knees are at
a 90° angle and your thighs are parallel to the floor – even if
that means leaving your ego at the door and using a lighter weight.
Mistake Two: Weight on
Their Toes
Throughout
the entire duration of the squat, your weight should be on your
heels. If you lift your heels and push through the balls of your
feet, you are putting added stress on your knees, which could lead to
injury. For a quick fix, curl your toes upwards during your squat to
force yourself to sit back on your heels. Improving ankle and hip
flexibility can also help to correct this crucial mistake.
Mistake Three: Knees
Going Forward
Similar
to the last mistake, you put your knees in a dangerous position when
they go too far forward. Make a conscious effort to keep your shins
as vertical as possible while squatting, and the knees should never
go forward past the tips of your toes.
Mistake Four: Rounding
the Lower Back
This is
one of the most challenging aspects of the squat to perfect. Your
lower spine naturally curves inwards; for the health of your back, it
is essential that you maintain this curve while squatting, as
rounding your lower back leaves your lumbar spine susceptible to
injury. Maintain proper spinal posture by keeping a “big chest”
when you squat – that is, keeping your shoulders back and the chest
up high.
Mistake Five: Improper
Breathing
Proper
breathing is important in every exercise, but it is extra-essential
with the squat. For starters, you should take the breath into your
belly, not your chest, as this helps create intra-abdominal pressure.
The timing of your breathing is also important: you should inhale at
the top of the squat, before you begin your descent and don’t exhale
until you have fully descended and are once again near the top of the
movement. This will help you generate maximum power.
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