5 Ways to Squat Better

SELF
by SELF
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5 Ways to Squat Better

Squats, whether weighted or not, are hands down one of the best, most powerful full-body exercises you can perform: Not only will you tone your butt and thighs, but you’ll develop a stronger core—especially when you start to add on weight with a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbells. But with great power, comes great responsibility: Proper form is essential to seeing the benefits.

We turned to two New York City-based trainers—Keith Wittenstein, CF L4, coach at CrossFit Solace and Nick Lobotsky, CF L1, coach at CrossFit NYC—for some quick pointers on how to improve your squat technique.

1. Make sure to keep your weight in your heels. If most of your body’s weight is being grounded by your toes, you could fall over or compromise form and hurt yourself by being off-kilter. “Keeping your weight in your heels keeps you balanced and allows you to generate lots of force,” says Wittenstein. “It also activates the big powerful muscles of the posterior chain, including your glutes, hamstrings, calves and spinal erectors,” making your bod work harder—and look better. Plus, it helps take pressure off the knees.

2. Push your hips back as you go down. “Sending your hips back first, to initiate the squat, will help allow you to keep your weight in your heels as well as properly align the rest of your body,” says Lobotsky. If you begin your squat by sending your hips straight down, you’ll either end up on your toes in the bottom of the squat (see #1) or with your knees tracking way too far forward, past your toes.

3. Push your knees out slightly. When squatting, you want your knees aligned over your toes. So in reminding yourself to push your knees out slightly, you’re essentially preventing them from collapsing inward. Doing this “helps protect the knees and recruits more muscles in your hips,” says Wittenstein. Think about your knees pointing toward your pinky toes to achieve the positioning, he adds.

4. Keep your chest up. Don’t let your torso drop! Doing so will change your center of gravity, which can be dangerous if you’re using weight while squatting, explains Lobotsky. By holding your chest up and out, you’ll be able to keep the control the weighted bar better, he says.

5. Get loooooow. The goal when doing a squat is to have your hip crease below your knees when you’re in the down spot. “When squatting shallow or above parallel, the knee is doing most of the work and absorbing the force. By squatting below parallel, the knees release the force and the leg muscles start doing the work instead,” says Lobotsky. So not only will you see better results by getting lower, but you’ll also help alleviate pressure on your joints, too.

Now that you can squat like a pro, put your skills to good use with this one-song workout. You’ll feel the burn. Trust.

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SELF

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16 responses to “5 Ways to Squat Better”

  1. Avatar T says:

    Well, it’s a pretty good article/blog. Except #2 is incorrect. If you send your hips back first, you’re more likely to end up performing a good morning, not a squat. Considering these are Crossfit trainers, I’m not surprised they got a basic part of the move wrong.

    • Avatar Scott says:

      I think also how low you squat depends entirely on your range of motion and that with some people squatting too low is counter productive. The lower you can go, the better. But some people shouldn’t, you just squat as low as you can go before your ass ’rounds in’.

    • Avatar crs says:

      I believe everybody I know that coaches a squat says to hinge at the hips first…in other words push the hips back first. Although pushing the hips back may be the same strategy for good mornings that doesnt necessarily make it wrong. They also say “push your hips back as you go down” meaning simultaneously…I don’t believe good mornings have you going down as your hips go back. I am not a crossfitter nor a big fan of cross fit but the info here is correct.

      • Avatar N8 says:

        Hip initiated squats are only appropriate for a “low bar back squat”. It shifts the workload to the hamstrings. Any squat with the weight in front of you (even a medicine ball like in the article photo) is a Front Squat. Front Squats should be initiated with knee bend, then immediately with hip hinge. Only a squat with the weight load on your back should begin by hip hinge.

  2. Avatar Linda says:

    I star­ted wor­king at hom­e, by comp­leting som­e bas­ic jobs which onl­y requir­ed desk­top or laptop com­puter an­d in­ternet conne­ction and I a­m so ha­ppy with it… Af­ter six mon­ths o­n th­is jo­b a­nd i ha­d pr­ofit so fa­r in tot­al $­36,00­0… Ba­sic­ly i get pai­d 80 doll­ars/ho­ur an­d w­ork f­or t­hree to fo­ur ho­urs on d­aily ba­sis.Best pa­rt to whole t­his thi­ng is th­at yo­u c­an m­ake your o­wn schedu­le whe­n you wor­k and for h­ow long and t­he paym­ents ar­e we­ekly

  3. Avatar dinosawrus says:

    I thought the knees weren’t supposed go over the toes?

    • Avatar crs says:

      What they mean is that the knees should not “cave in” but should stay aligned over or on top of the toes. I don’t think they are saying “over” as in “in front of”.

      • Avatar N8 says:

        Actually a properly executed Front Squat requires the toes to track past the knees in most people. However, this depends on individual anthropometry. It’s safe for anyone with healthy knees, assuming all other Squat mechanics are properly executed.

  4. Avatar Ciara A says:

    Shaun t says to push your hips forward amd squeeze the glutes to get a better range of motion. T25

    • Avatar crs says:

      This is correct…but Shaun t is saying on the way up you should push your hips forward and squeeze the glutes, not on the way down. I don’t know anyone who would suggest to move the hips forward on the way down…

  5. Avatar Marie says:

    Number 5… The cited study doesn’t seem to match up. Seems that there’s no difference for the knees?

    • Avatar e.Bosselini says:

      I agree. I have read studies where 1/2 squats are as effective as full squats. Most recent was in an article in Muscle & Fitness

  6. Avatar Smugg Bugg says:

    Very Nice Article…. Thanks For Sharing

  7. Avatar Friendly Joe says:

    Last time I squatted I lost 5 lbs!

  8. Avatar Karen says:

    Where is the song? I clicked on the link, and only got a picture.

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