In a recently released video, strength coach Jeff Cavaliere C.S.C.S. discusses the most common blunders that individuals make when doing the back squat and how to fix them.
To begin, he notes that many individuals start out with the incorrect posture, either being too narrow or too broad. But there’s a simple way to do it: lie down on your back and raise your legs, then spread them apart to discover the point of max hip flexion where you aren’t also rounding your back. Once you’ve discovered it, line your feet up with your femurs and stand up.
Another aspect where a small change might make a big impact is foot placement. “It’s generally agreed that slightly greater outward rotation of the foot will provide more room inside of the hip joint and better recruit the adductors at the bottom of a squat to help you push back up,” said Cavaliere. “But if you only move your foot and not the rest of your leg, you’ll be asking for trouble… You’re causing torque problems at the knee by leaving out this step. Stop stressing about turning your feet, and start thinking about turning your knees. If you extend your knees, your foot will follow suit, as will the hip.”
Another frequent misconception, Cavaliere states, is that your knees should never go beyond your toes during a squat, which many people follow to the letter.
It’s also critical to maintain the chest and pelvic regions coupled at all times while squatting. “At the bottom of the squat, when the hips move first, it’s more difficult to keep the chest linked,” says Cavaliere. “However, if you do it this way and execute it correctly, you’ll get a straighter bar path and a more efficient squat.” Many people don’t pull their lats in while squatting, which could cause chest rounding and caving. “It maintains that lateral support required to create a solid torso,” he explains.
The use of padding on the bar when performing squats is also a problem for Cavaliere, who believes that it limits the range of motion. While ostensibly designed to make the activity more comfortable, this actually restricts the number of times the bar may rest comfortably on the shoulders. It only naturally fits over the final cervical vertebrae, but it will not stay Comfortable for too long if you remove it and put the bar on your back. “You’ll discover a better position without any of those disadvantages that come with that pad if you ditch this and place the bar on your back,” he claims.
He goes on to say that adding complimentary unilateral activities like the lunge, Bulgarian split squat, or step-up into your routine as a method of detecting and correcting strength imbalances is a good idea.
Another frequent blunder is to not warm up adequately. Piling on the pounds and rushing to achieve a large total before your body is ready can be dangerous. “If you’re wanting to do squats or any other work out, you will need to make sure you give your body enough time to get ready,” says Cavaliere.