By: Coach J
Squatting is not only fundamental to human movement but essential to improving fitness and overall health. At Reviver we constantly stress the three non-negotiable points of performance to a great squat:
- Feet flat with pressure in the heels
- Knees tracking middle of the foot
- Torso neutral and upright
The fourth point of performance is depth below parallel, but this is negotiable – we never want to sacrifice one of the non-negotiables in order to squat lower.
So, if you’re someone who has yet to perfect your squat here is a breakdown of things you can do to improve your squat based on the points of performance listed above.
- Feet flat with pressure in the heels. – If you’re struggling here, the fix is pretty easy – initiate your squat by reaching your butt back and make sure you don’t let your knees move too far forward. Its not imperative that your shins stay completely vertical, but if you have any limitations with your ankle flexion, your heels will likely come up if your knees travel forward. Also keep in mind, you never want to lift your toes off the floor in order to move pressure to your heels – you want your toes to remain in contact and I like to think about ‘pinching’ the ground with my big and little toe.
- Knees tracking middle of the foot. – This is key to keeping your knees, ankles and hips safe. You’ll often hear us say, “push your knees out” – this is a cue used to combat the common fault of knees coming in. It also helps create stability in the hip which provides a better low back position and more power out of the bottom. If you’re constantly battling your knees coming in, it might be due to weak or inactive glutes, poor ankle range of motion, toes pointed too far out, or a combination of all three. If you’re not sure, ask a coach – we can either tell from watching you or go through a couple easy assessments to figure it out.
- Torso neutral and upright. – If you tend to round your upper back during an Air Squat, consider raising your arms in front of you as you squat. If you ‘butt-wink’ at the bottom, try squeezing your butt, pinching the ground with your toes, and shoving your knees out as you lower. If you lean forward during your squat you can also try raising your arms as you lower or use a Goblet Squat to help counter-balance. A drastic lean forward can also be caused by really tight ankles – try foam rolling / smashing your calves and using a banded distraction mobility drill on your ankle joint. We can’t forget about basic anatomy here – everyone’s body was built slightly different – for example, if you have longer femurs, you won’t be able to have a perfectly upright torso during your squat.
- Use a box – we are huge fans of using a box to aid in improving our squats. A box can be used as a target, to ensure the same depth for each rep. It can also be used as a chair, in order to sit down and fix the issue at hand.
Don’t forget, you never want to add load if it causes you to sacrifice your non-negotiables. Check out this video for more: