Squating is one of the most important and most effective exercises for developing hip and knee strength and creating general lower body coordination. Despite its obvious benefits I often see the same common mistakes repeated again and again when the squat is used. So today I will cover some of the most common problems and tell you how to fix them.
Firstly, and quite possibly the most common is the knee cave. This issue is not just exclusive to squatting alone and is often present in such lifts as the deadlift. Knee cave is very much as it sounds- your knees bending inwards, not following the line of your toes. Now, this is an issue because internal rotation gives the lifter a far from ideal leverage to move the weight- if you are being trapped under a heavy squat the last you want is your knees buckling and for you to collapse in a not so neat heap on the ground. So if you want for this to not happen to you then listen in… I know everyone makes fun of the abduction and adductor machine exercises but it will target the muscle causing the problem- the glute medius. If these machines are not available then find a resistance band and place it just above the knee. Then with the band in place complete a barbell squat with about 10-15% less weight than your working set. If you fancy a harder challenge add a few second pause to the bottom of the banded squat- this will make your glute medius work even harder to keep those knees externally rotated.
Another problem I see in the gym is an issue with the stance of some lifters. Often times I see people complain about the inside foot caving in or the fact that they can not get enough depth when they squat. Both of these common problems can be fixed by a simple change in the way you position your feet when you squat. For those who are looking to find out what stance they should try, just use the simple “stand” test. Walk a metre forward and stop. Whatever your feet position themselves should be the way you squat. For most this works as simple bio mechanics takes over. But for some this will not be sufficient and see a little tweak is needed. For the issue of the feet rolling or caving in when you squat- try using a slightly closer stance. If depth is the bane of your leg day then try and point your feet out, create a V on the floor below you.
The last common issue I will address in this post is one of perception more than technique. Whenever you see videos of squatting on social media or YouTube you see people who have a very upright stance when they squat. These athletes are also able to squat huge numbers- therefore, the assumption that is made that if you want to have a big, perfect squat that is the way to do it. This is completely wrong, and as my quest to spread the message of “personal fitness” continues, this is something I need to explain. There is more than one way to squat. If you do squat with particularly upright stance, chances are you are what is known as quad or knee dominant. If you find that you back lowers when you squat chances are you glute or hip dominant. Whichever one you think you are it does not matter- as long as you can do the squat with good form that is all that matters.
I hope this has answered some unanswered questions some of you might have had and I hope you enjoyed the content. For more on squatting and, specifically, how to break a squat plateau then click here.