proper squat form

Beyond the booty: Proper Squat Form

Doing squats is absolutely amazing for your backside! It’ll strengthen your lower body in addition to having many other health benefits. However, squatting without proper squat form can do more harm than good.

proper squat form

Why proper squat form is important

Squatting utilizes almost every muscle of your body! While squatting we’re not only using our legs, but our backs, core, arms and shoulders too. It’s one of the best workouts we can do to build muscle all over our body and it even strengthens our bones.

Think about squatting with improper form like drinking diet soda. We think we’re doing good things for our bodies by not drinking a bunch of sugar, but in reality we’re actually doing more harm to our bodies by drinking fake sugar…but that’s for a different talk.

The two main reasons why squatting with good form is important is to prevent back and knee injuries. One common mistake is to round your back or lose your neutral spine while squatting. This can cause lower back injuries such as a disc herniation or spinal damage.

Another common mistake is to allow your knees to track inwards instead of keeping them pressed out over your knees as you lower. This can cause a variety of knee injuries including chronic pain.

For more common squatting mistakes and how to fix them, check “mistakes to avoid” below!

proper squat form

What is proper squat form?

Proper squat form is actually pretty simple. It’s something that we’ve been doing since we were babies, but often times it’s forgotten as we age since squatting to rest turns into sitting on furniture as we age. For that reason it’s important to go over how to squat properly!

To practice proper squat form follow the steps below or take a look at the video put together by Nerd Fitness! Staci does an awesome job of explaining proper squat form.

Proper squat form steps:

  1. Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip width distance apart.
  2. Keep your hips, knees and ankles stacked in a straight line.
  3. Focus on keeping a neutral spine during the entire squat. You can do this by rolling your shoulders up down and back, and standing tall before you start your squat.
  4. Extend your arms in front of you so they are parallel to the ground…think Frankenstein.
  5. Inhale as you think about keeping your feet grounded. Now you can start bringing your hips back as you bend your knees.
  6. As you’re sitting back make sure to keep you back flat, knees tracking over your toes, your chest and shoulders up and your gaze forward.
  7. Squat as low as your mobility will allow. Ideally you want to squat lower than your knees.
  8. From the bottom of your squat, drive through your heels to return to the starting position while keeping your core tight and knees tracking over your feet.

Mistakes to avoid

When we’re working out on our own it can be extremely easy to think that we have proper form when we’re not sure what to look for, so make sure to check out the video below!

I absolutely love the Buff Dudes. They’re extremely knowledgeable and rather funny. You will notice that they refer to “dudes” quite a bit, but ladies don’t be discouraged…this info applied to dudettes too.

You’ll also notice in this video that they refer to squatting with a bar. However, have no fear! These common squat mistakes to avoid also apply to body weight and dumbbell squats.

Here’s a quick overview of common squat mistakes to avoid in the video:

  • Only performing a partial squat instead of sitting all the way down into your squat – usually below your knees.
  • Tracking your knees inward instead of keeping your knees over your feet.
  • Lifting your heels and pressing through your toes to get back to the starting position of your squat.
  • Squatting with a rounded back instead of a neutral spine.
  • Squatting with the barbell on your neck instead of your shoulders.

If you want more healthy tips like this…

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photo credit: squat

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Teresa Marie Howes, BS, CPT, HHP
Teresa Marie is a nutrition expert, fitness enthusiast and health coach. She is backed with a BS in Nutrition, an MBA, a CPT from ACE and 16+ years of experience in the weight loss and wellness space. She is the founder and lead contributor of this site and coaches clients across the globe on how to achieve better health and more happiness by implementing the 4 Universal Diet Truths of her Clean & Colorful Concept.

 

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