Rodney McBride

Can You Squat? 2

Can You Squat? 2

In my blog Can You Squat? (see October 21st) I spoke about some misconceptions regarding the squat maneuver. In this blog I want to cover the correct procedure when executing the squat, but first lets review real quick squat biomechanics.

The most important thing to remember is that the squat is a PUSHING OUT movement not an up and down movement. I cannot stress how important this is. Pushing your knees out to the sides will recruit the hips (glutes/external rotators) more forcefully. The hips are extremely strong so don't disregard them when executing the squat. 

There are two types of squatters. The quad squatter and hip/hamstring squatter. The hip/hamstring technique is by far more effective since it automatically engages the hips unlike the quad technique, which can put enormous stress on the knees/back since the hips are not the primary focus. 

And remember there is no difference in quadriceps recruitment in a close stance squat compared to a wide stance squat; but there is a huge difference in hip recruitment. So why would you not hip/hamstring squat if the benefits are efficacious.

 So what should your squat look like?

1 The first position is the upper body. Step to the barbell and find your hand placement. Make sure your body is center with the barbell. You would be surprised how many people don't take the time to do this (mistake number 1). Hand placement will be closer the body than farther away. Also make sure this is even on both sides. Squeeze the barbell hard and dip underneath.
2 Bar placement is upper back/rear shoulder not on the neck (mistake number 2). Pull the traps together (squeeze shoulder blades) and push your chest out. Hold both during the entire movement.
3 Make sure first position is completely set before you step out. Once you step out you cannot reset (mistake number 3). If first position does not feel right step back in set the bar down and repeat the first two steps. 
4 Take a breath in and hold, tighten up your body, continue to squeeze the bar really hard and step out. Take one step back. Shallow breathe as you step back into second position but stay semi-tight. 
5 Second position is intergrating the upper body with the lower body plus the stance. Once you have stepped back pick a stance that is comfortable. Just outside shoulders or sumo stance (extra wide stance). Either way turn the feet out 30 to 60 degrees. This should be between 1 and 2 o'clock but no more than 60 degrees.
6 Keep the feet flat but corkscrew (externally rotate out) into the ground. You will feel the legs turn out slightly. Hold the entire time. This recruits the hips more. Also keep more weight distributed on the outside of the foot but the foot still stays flat. Hold the entire time. This activates a reflex called the magnet reaction which also recruits the hips more. 
7 Now you are ready to squat. Everything is set. Take another breath in and hold, tighten up and hold. Pull the hips DOWN and BACK not just down (mistake number 4). Pulling the hips down without pulling back pushes the knees forward which is biomechanically wrong and dangerous. 
8 While pulling the hips down and back during the descent push the knees out in line with the feet which are flat, turned out and screwed into the ground. Are you still holding everything else is place? Upper body position? etc. 
9 Squat to parallel. Parallel is when the crease at the front of the hip is just below the knee no less (mistake number 5). Hold for a second and reverse the movement. If you followed all the steps correctly you should feel like you could sit at parallel all day. 
10 Once you start to reverse the movement this is where the PUSHING OUT really comes into play. While sitting at parallel, feet flat, turned out, screwed into the ground, hips DOWN and BACK, holding your breath, staying tight; push the knees out in line with the feet and squeeze the glutes really hard together at the same time. The timing has to be impeccable but if done right the ascent will feel smooth and easy. When I say squeeze the glutes really hard together I mean really hard. Pretend you are trying to hold a pencil between your cheeks. The hamstrings will heavily come into play also.
11 The hips and shoulders should always move at the same time whether descending or ascending. Never one before the other (mistake number 6). Pretend the spine is a long rod with the shoulders and hips book ending the north and south side. 
12 Continue to push the knees out, squeezing the glutes together as you are ascending back into second position while still tight, feet flat, turned out, screwed into the ground, holding breath with shoulders and hips moving at the same time.
13 Once at the top exhale a little air but not all of it (mistake number 7) and stay semi-tight. If you are doing more reps rebreathe back in, tighten up, etc. 
14 When reracking the weight shallow breathe, stay semi-tight, step back in and rack. Dip underneath barbell, step out. Never fully relax until the weight has been set down completely (mistake number 8).

If squatting this way feels really systematic that's because it is. You always want to follow the right progression in order in the correct way. Good luck.

And of course if you have any questions you can email or call me.


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