What’s happening, Fringe Fam? Blake is back today to talk all about squatting, some safety tips, and form checks you can do yourself to make sure that you’re not putting yourself in any position to be injured.
Typically, you should stay away from static stretches, or getting yourself into positions where you’re holding and staying in one position for some time. These things look like standing toe touches, standing quad stretch, or standing knee hug to target your hamstrings.
Instead, you’ll want to switch those static stretches out for something dynamic, or something that’s forcing you to constantly change position as you warm up. This might include a walking toe touch (instead of static standing toe touch), butt kicks, high knees, leg swings forward and back, or even bodyweight squats.
You should be aiming to do something that mimics the movement you’re about to perform under weight with more tension, so your body is prepared for the power it will need to exert.
Most people tend to set up their squats to fit the body they’re working with. Generally speaking, you can go about shoulder width apart with your feet, and point your toes out about 15 degrees or so. The turn of your feet shouldn’t be massive. When you’re getting set up, a lot of your focus should be on where your feet are at. Everything starts from the feet up.
As you begin your squat, your first movement should not be to just “squat.”
You want to avoid letting your knees come forward past your toes and bringing your heels up off the floor along with that movement. This will put you in a position that’s super tough on your knees and feet, instead of placing the focus on your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core.
Instead, you’ll want to plant your feet on the floor, sit back in your heels, and bring your hips back overtop of them. You should feel the weight in the “trifecta”: your big toes, your heels, and your pinky toes.
So, let’s break it down a little.
When you first begin your squat, you’re going to break at your hips, bringing your hips back, keeping your weight in the “trifecta” and pushing your knees out along the way to open up your hips. This will give you the ideal positioning for your chest, and keep your back nice and straight.
If you don’t do this, it’s possible that your chest will come down, your back will start rounding, and it’s bad news for your back.
If your feet are too close together, it might be difficult for you to get into the proper position if you struggle with mobility in your hips or ankles.
There are typically two different places to put your barbell on your back.
Some people prefer a high bar squat where the bar rests on top of your upper traps.
Others prefer a low bar squat, where the bar rests on the back of your shoulder at the start of your rear delts.
You’ll likely find that one of the bar placements works better for you and your body mechanics, but it might take some playing around with stance, weight, and bar placement to figure it out. It largely depends on how mobile you are and what feels most comfortable. It’s best to play around with it, find what works for you, and stick with it.
There are more things to do with a barbell squat to make it more difficult than just adding more weight to the bar with more bumper plates. You don’t always have to go heavier to get more stimulus.
Try adding tempo, speed reps, pause reps, or other challenges even with a lighter weight to get your work done.
For safety purposes, you never want to force your squat past your personal range of motion.
Instead, hit the bottom of your squat where your body comfortably allows you to in terms of depth, while keeping all other form variables where they need to be.
Typically, when you’re pushing past the point of comfortability in your mobility or range of motion, your body tends to compensate in other ways like rounding your back, firing muscles that aren’t usually engaged, bringing your chest forward, or closing your hips and knees as you fight the rep back up. This is where we start to see injuries occur, so make sure you get comfortable with YOUR squat set-up, your mechanics, and your range of motion.
Another thing to consider is your squat rack or cage set up. Are your J-cups too high, too low, or just right? Or, are you clean and jerking heavy weight off the ground and behind your head to get your squats in? Let's get you a squat rack or cage and fix that problem.
If you have any questions about squatting, form, set-up, or tips and tricks to keep yourself moving smoothly and avoiding injury, send us a message! Comment below, or email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel, follow us on Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter for more! If you’re looking for a Facebook community full of strength-minded, positive people, join our Facebook group: The Garage Gym Revolution.
As always, squat heavy, squat happy :)