Squat Like a Pro: 7 Common Squat Mistakes you Should Avoid
August 2, 2023
August 2, 2023
Squats are a fundamental exercise for any fitness routine, catering to weight loss, endurance, power, strength, and overall fitness goals. Their widespread appeal lies in their simplicity, making them suitable for beginners and seasoned athletes alike.
These versatile exercises effectively engage numerous muscle groups, including glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and erector spinae, while also promoting knee and ankle joint strength and health, preventing age-related discomfort. Fitness instructors often use squats to assess strength and flexibility before crafting personalized workout plans. Squats can be performed with or without weights, allowing for progression based on individual fitness objectives and physical capabilities.
Here are some of the common mistakes that you make while practicing squats.
Despite the ease and numerous benefits of squats, there are serious risks associated with it when not performed correctly. Flawed technique could result into a host of chronic injuries including knee and spine damage. This makes it imperative to follow the correct technique for squats irrespective of whether you’re a beginner or a pro.
Skipping a warm-up before doing squats can be detrimental for several reasons. Warm-up exercises increase blood flow to the muscles, raise body temperature, and improve joint mobility, preparing the body for more intense activity. A proper warm-up helps optimize muscle activation, enhances performance, and prevents potential strain or damage to muscles and joints during squat exercises.
Proper warm up is vital before doing squats and the RAMP technique is your best choice. RAMP stands for:
R: Raise body temperature and heart rate.
A: Activate key muscle groups.
M: Mobilize joints.
P: Potentiate—perform the exercise at 10% intensity for a brief span as preparation for the actual exercise.
The RAMP technique incorporates activities such as treadmill running, apart from activation and mobilization of specific joints and muscle groups which will be used during the exercise. Especially in the case of squats, ensure that all the joints are mobilized instead of a selected few. Potentiation as the final step involves preparing the body for the actual exercise through low intensity simulation of the actual workout.
A common mistake people make while doing squats is to begin the movement from the knee rather than the hip. This generates maximum strain on the wrong muscles (the quadriceps instead of the glutes) while also increasing the risk of knee injury.
When performing squats, it is crucial to initiate the movement from the hip rather than the knee. By starting the squat from the hip joint, you engage the gluteal muscles and posterior chain more effectively, promoting proper form and maximizing the benefits of the exercise. This technique helps distribute the load evenly. Focusing on hip initiation also encourages better alignment and stability throughout the squat movement.
When performing squats, it is generally recommended to avoid allowing the knees to excessively cross over the toes. This guideline helps maintain proper form and reduces the stress placed on the knee joints. Allowing the knees to go beyond the toes excessively can increase the risk of knee discomfort or injury. Instead, aim to keep the knees in line with or slightly behind the toes throughout the squat movement to promote better alignment and minimize strain on the knees. Remember to adjust your stance and depth as needed to maintain this position.
Not completing the range of motion while doing a squat prevents you from reaping the full benefits of the exercise and also increases injury risk. Ensure that the buttocks are parallel to the ground during the downward movement and don’t hesitate to descend further if your body permits. The extent of the downward movement usually depends on individual physical conditions (abnormal femur length or a problem with the femur head angle could be restraining factors that prevent the full range of motion but such cases are a rarity), but most people are generally able to complete the motion with a little bit of effort and commitment.
It is important to avoid butt wink during squats. Butt wink refers to the posterior pelvic tilt that can occur at the bottom of a squat, causing the tailbone to tuck under and the lower back to round. This can put excessive strain on the lumbar spine and increase the risk of injury.
To prevent butt wink, focus on maintaining proper core stability and hip mobility. Engage your core muscles throughout the squat and work on improving your hip flexibility through mobility exercises. Adjusting your squat depth to a range where you can maintain a neutral spine position can also help avoid butt wink. If necessary, seek guidance from a qualified trainer or physical therapist to address any underlying mobility or technique issues.
While it’s important to maintain proper form during squats, you don’t need to obsess over the position of your toes. In a squat, the toes can naturally angle slightly outward or remain parallel, depending on your comfort and individual biomechanics. The key focus should be on maintaining a stable and balanced stance, engaging the core, and ensuring proper alignment of the knees with the toes. As long as you’re maintaining good form and not experiencing any discomfort or strain, variations in toe position are generally acceptable.
The general rule of breathing during exercise is to exhale during concentric movements (shortening of muscles) and inhale during eccentric movements (lengthening of muscles). During squats, this would imply breathing in during the downward movement and breathing out while rising. But a slight modification is made for squats with heavy weights where it is recommended that you hold your breath (with closed glottis) while rising, exhaling only when you’re fully upright. This is known as the Valsalva manoeuvre whose benefits include core stability and protection of the spine while dealing with heavy loads.
The Valsalva manoeuvre, however, is not recommended for people with high blood pressure since holding your breath leads to a spike in pressure. Also, using a lumbar belt is recommended if you’re using very heavy weights.
When performing squats, it’s important to avoid common mistakes to ensure safe and effective execution. Prioritize a proper warm-up to prepare your body for the exercise. Initiate the movement from the hips, maintain knee alignment with the toes, and strive for a complete squat with proper depth. Avoid butt wink by focusing on core stability and hip mobility. By being mindful of these mistakes, you can maximize the benefits of squats while minimizing the risk of injury.
The correct stance in a squat can vary slightly depending on your body structure and personal preferences, but here are some general pointers to help you achieve good form:
Remember, everyone’s body is different, and some individuals may need slight modifications to their squat stance to accommodate their unique anatomy and mobility. Focus on maintaining good form and listen to your body to perform squats safely and effectively.
Performing squats on a regular basis is a great way to improve your glutes. It helps to strengthen your muscles. Squats primarily target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles. Regularly performing squats can help strengthen and tone these muscles, improving lower body strength and aesthetics. Squats are a fundamental exercise for many sports and activities. By strengthening your lower body, squats can enhance your athletic performance, including speed, power, and jumping ability.
However, it is important to do your squats in the right stance and position to avoid any injury and to reap the full benefit f your workout. Reach out to your trainer to understand the best way for you to squat.
Squats are a highly beneficial exercise for various fitness goals. They engage multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and erector spinae, while also strengthening knee and ankle joints. Squats improve lower body fitness, promote proper posture, and help prevent age-related aches and pains. Whether you aim to lose weight, build endurance, or increase strength, squats are a fundamental exercise that can be adapted to any fitness level and provide long-lasting benefits for overall fitness and well-being.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here
Common mistakes while squatting include improper warm-up, initiating the movement from the knees instead of the hips, knees crossing over the toes excessively, performing partial squats instead of full range of motion, experiencing butt wink (posterior pelvic tilt), obsessing over toe position, neglecting proper breathing techniques, and using incorrect stance or form.
Warm-up exercises increase blood flow, raise body temperature, and improve joint mobility, preparing the body for more intense activity. A proper warm-up optimizes muscle activation, enhances performance, and prevents potential strain or damage to muscles and joints during squat exercises.
Initiating the movement from the hips instead of the knees engages the gluteal muscles and posterior chain more effectively, promoting proper form and maximizing the benefits of the exercise. It helps distribute the load evenly and reduces the risk of knee injuries.
Allowing the knees to excessively cross over the toes can increase the stress placed on the knee joints and lead to discomfort or injury. Keeping the knees in line with or slightly behind the toes promotes better alignment and minimizes strain on the knees.
Performing a complete squat ensures that you reap the full benefits of the exercise and reduces the risk of injury. Descending until the buttocks are parallel to the ground, or lower if your body permits, engages more muscles and promotes proper form and joint health.
Butt wink refers to the posterior pelvic tilt that can occur at the bottom of a squat, causing the tailbone to tuck under and the lower back to round. This can strain the lumbar spine and increase the risk of injury. Avoiding butt wink requires maintaining proper core stability and hip mobility.
While it’s important to maintain proper form, obsessing over the position of your toes is unnecessary. In a squat, the toes can naturally angle slightly outward or remain parallel, depending on your comfort and biomechanics. Focus on maintaining a stable and balanced stance, engaging the core, and aligning the knees with the toes.
The general rule is to exhale during the upward (concentric) movement and inhale during the downward (eccentric) movement. However, when dealing with heavy weights, it’s recommended to hold your breath (Valsalva maneuver) while rising and exhale when fully upright. This technique provides core stability and protects the spine.
Following the correct stance and form is essential to ensure safe and effective execution of squats. It helps prevent injuries, maximizes muscle engagement, and targets the intended muscle groups. Incorrect form can lead to strain, imbalanced muscle development, and compromised results.
If you’re new to squatting or have specific concerns, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a qualified trainer or physical therapist. They can assess your technique, provide personalized recommendations, and help address any underlying mobility or technique issues to ensure safe and effective squatting.