6 Squatting Mistakes You Might Be Making
Who here loves squats? Or are you one of those people who can't stand this much-loved compound movement? Whatever your stance, we've put together this list of common mistakes people make when squatting, and why they could be making your life difficult.
1. Inactive Feet
How much attention do you give your feet when you squat? Do you tend to rack up the bar, position your feet, and go for it?
There's a lot going on at the end of your legs, but since we started wearing shoes, we no longer have the same sensory experience in our feet that we do in our hands and fingers. Waking up your feet, and making them active, could make a massive difference to your squat.
One major issue with passive feet is having ankles prone to collapsing, or pronation. The words collapse and squat don't go well together, with short-term issues affecting efficiency and power. And long-term? The issue could cause a bigger issue for your knees or pelvis.
Whilst these issues often arise from the body's structure, it can also be a functional issue. If you don't have the right muscles firing, stabilising the ankles and feet, you will forever have a weak ankle position compromising your squats.
2. The Butt Wink
Keeping a flat, neutral spine when squatting will keep you in the strongest and safest position. If your lower back rounds, you put stress on the lumbar spine, and likely feel your butt tuck underneath as you hit the bottom of your squat.
Many try to combat this by overarching their lower back, but this will lead to further problems. Here's our tip: set up for an air squat, take a deep breath, and exhale hard. You should feel your ribcage drop, and your pelvis tilt upwards. Maintain this position, hit a squat, and feel how active your core is as you do it. This technique should negate the rounding or arching, and leave you feeling more comfortable.
3. Popping Hips
As you rise out of a squat, your hips and shoulders should come up at the same time. Particularly as the weight gets heavier, you may start to notice your hips are popping up first. Leaving yourself in a "good morning" position with a heavy weight on your shoulders won't be fun. Perhaps you've hit your limit, or maybe it's a technical issue. Find some coaching guidance and work to keep that perfect form.
4. Rising Heels
If your heels are coming up, put that bar back down! Before loading up, it's important to ensure your heels are grounded as they are key to keeping you stable on the way down, and power your drive on the back up.
Sure, you can jump into some lifting shoes, or wedge some small plates under your heels, but this is only a short-term solution, and won't offer much benefit in the long run. Take the time to work out the cause, and watch yours squats improve.
Determining this will take some external advice. We recommend talking to your coach down at the box, or seeing a movement specialist, to find the best way of correcting the issue.
5. Knees In (on the way down)
We're not going to use this post to delve into the knees in/knees out debate. That's another issue, for another day.
Whilst there's some difference in opinion when it comes to the knee position on the way out of a squat, it's generally agreed that a collapsing knee on the way down isn't a good idea.
If your knees bow into a valgus position, you'll stress your knees - potentially causing some damage, as well as throwing off your squat position, which could lead to failure.
As you descend, keep your knees pointing over your toes. If you find your knees drifting in, think about pushing them out to activate the muscles - but not so far as to force your knees past your toes. This will help you keep a strong and safe position.
6. Sticking to One Type of Squat
You're only back squatting? It's time to mix it up a bit!
There are hundreds of variations of the squat, so don't stick to one movement. Give your body a challenge.
Hack squats, box squats, and Bulgarian split squats will tax your body in different ways and, if you're executing the movements correctly, will help you improve your overall strength in the back squat.