The Most Common Problem with Squatting - Part 1

Posted on by Connie K

 width=I dare to say that the back squat is the king of exercises.  A week of training doesn't go by without getting underneath a barbell and squatting some heavy weight.  As a powerlifter, it’s one of my best lifts.  As a bodybuilder, it’s what has gotten me the name “Quadzilla”.  And as an overall fitness enthusiast, no matter what training you prescribe to, from the every day house mom to the most elite athlete, I would preach about the benefits of back squatting. It’s definitely a complicated movement that requires practice to master it.  But it’s worth the time and effort to learn. The two most common problems I see when people are squatting are found in the descension and the ascension. Problem #1 (in the descension, or going down for the squat) The first problem is people don’t sit back in their squat.  You must break at the hips before you break at your knees.  This is really common when someone is quad dominate and they don’t get the concept yet of utilizing their hips.  This will problems with the squat before the exercise can begin, such as misalignment of the body which will in turn cause you to drop your chest, thus losing all form and tightness in the body.  It’s also common to see the lifter come up on their toes when the squat if they don’t sit back into the squat. You can see that if you come up on your toes and your chest is dropped forward, the weight is now moving forward and up rather than in a linear movement down and up, usually resulting in a bad situation where the lifter falls forward. Other than holding you back from getting bigger numbers in the squat, this is the main reason for most people having lower back injuries. When you break at your knees before you break at your hips, it puts a lot more strain on your erectors. The solution: Work on your hip flexibility and focus on sitting into the squat.  Make sure your hip flexors are warmed up and not tight. If you read about powerlifting or train with any powerlifters, they call it “sitting back into the hole.”  Doing so will teach you to drive through your hips and utilize your glutes and hamstrings and it will take a load off of your quads.  After a good heavy squat workout, not only should your quads be shaking, but your butt should be hurting as well! Think about sticking your butt out when you squat and then bend at the knees.  As a regression to teach you how to do so, work with a box or something low enough to show you depth but gives you stability.  Think about driving through your heels and keeping your feet flat.  Your feet and your toes should feel like they’re spreading the floor.  You’ll see lifters with flat-soled shoes with no heels, such as old school chucks or Olympic style lifting shoes that don’t have a rounded heel.  Some lifters even squat barefoot so that they can feel the ground better. Stay tuned for part 2 where  I tell you the problem I usually see during the ascension of the squat.    width=Danny Quach is a senior at the University of Georgia and he’s studying Health Promotion and Behavior.  He’s a powerlifter at heart and has done it for over six years.  He just competed in his first bodybuilding show in Summer of 2011.  For powerlifting, he holds some Georgia records.  In his first bodybuilding competition, he placed 2nd in Novice in INBF Southern States.  On his spare time he’s a part of the University of Georgia’s cheerleading co-ed squads; his favorite past-time? Throwing girls around and catching them.