Squatting. The Kingpin of gym exercises? The most epic of workouts? Possibly. One that even hardcore gym goers can mess up? Definitely.
A lot of stress on a lot of muscles, a lot of movements that need to be perfected, and some joints that can be damaged seriously.
But don’t worry too much, here are the 5 worst squat mistakes and, because we love anyone who lifts and squats, we’ll tell you how to fix them too!
Messing up the chest position
THE PROBLEM: If your chest points down, and you round your back, you are setting off a chain reaction that can cause you serious damage, and cut your efficiency down to a bare minimum.
Creating a ‘butt wink’ by leaning too far forward, and arching your back, is a tell tale sign that you aren’t positioning yourself correctly.
THE FIX: Squeeze your shoulder blades together and exhale as you go down.
Not going below parallel
THE PROBLEM: In short, if you don’t go deep, you aren’t working your muscles hard enough. It’s like going on a run, but walking part of the way. You’ll feel some benefit, but nothing worth writing home about.
Any exercise needs you to get through the full movement, this way you work your muscles correctly. Some will say that going below parallel can damage the knees, but this isn’t true. In fact, it has been shown in studies that squatting is good for the knees in general.
THE FIX: Take it slow, brace your core, and go light to start with, in order to get the required depth.
THE PROBLEM: The reason you are wobbling is probably because you are trying to lift too much. And in wobbling, your create muscle imbalances, which can cause injury. You can’t do the full movement in a technically correct manner, and you won’t feel the benefits.
If you aren’t in control and are wobbling up and down, then you also run the serious risk of dropping the bar, and causing an even more serious injury than any other muscle imbalances.
THE FIX: Start with just the bar, and perfect your form before you build up the weight.
Not driving through heels
THE PROBLEM: When you drive through the heels, you keep your weight back. This causes less stress on your back, and doesn’t increase the stress on your knees.
This is why weightlifting shoes have a big heel, in order to optimise the amount you drive down into the back of your foot.
THE FIX: Curl your toes up when lifting, this will get you into the habit of driving through your heels.
Knees moving inwards
THE PROBLEM: If your knees are going in when you squat, you are placing an incredible amount of stress on a joint that is key to the movement. The knee is a very complicated joint, or series of joints and placing undue stress can injure them.
THE FIX: Always point your knees the same way as your toes. If your knees drift in, then place a resistance band round them to force correction.