''Yo bro, looks as if you skipped leg day'' has to be the worst line you can say to someone who regularly trains their legs but isn't seeing the results they had hoped. If you are this person and train them hard but still can't see the progress shine through, you might be making some rookie mistakes that you need to iron out. Rest assured, there are lots of people out there who can't squat properly and need some help but following these guidelines will certainly help you improve.
The squat is a rather complex exercise but once mastered it is something you should keep in your arsenal and use to build, shape and tone muscles. Squatting is also perfect for people that won't to lose weight as it is a multi joint exercise which uses lots of muscles, therefore burning more fat than running on a treadmill. The squat will target the legs, bum, lower back, abs and the joints to stablise your body throughout the whole movement, this is one exercise not to be messed with.
Avoid These Rookie Mistakes
Keep Your Feet Planted - A common rookie mistake is that the heels of your feet lift off the floor when driving to your neutral stance which places a negative impact on your knees. It also drives you forward meaning you put extra pressure on your back and it can pull you off balance. Aim to keep the weight in your heels so that you drive throughout you quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes which will also generate a better pump in the muscle!
Don't Round Your Back - Keeping your spine in neutral is hugely important when performing a squat, no rounding allowed!! Avoid curving your lower spine by tucking your hips under and allowing it to remain neutral throughout. When you curve your spine you place an unnecessary impact on it and this could result in injury.
Engage Stomach Muscles - Relaxing your stomach muscles whilst squatting can decrease performance and allow for further injury across the lower part of your back. It is important to engage your core muscles by drawing in your belly button that then triggers your TVA and will keep you balanced and strong throughout the movement.
Abdominal Pressure - Working closely with the above it is also important to make sure you are breathing at the right times. When you squat it is crucial that you take a deep breath in to keep abdominal pressure to allow strength to push back up. If you do this without any abdominal pressure, you won't be able to push through with as much force. Make sure you are taking a deep breath in on the way down into the squat and breathe out when you explode up.
Follow these pointers to increase your squat strength, muscle gains and all round general health as you avoid picking up any knocks or niggles. Squatting correctly doesn't just increase results but also your ability to remain injury free, so it is well in your interest to train smart and safely. Enjoy and don't forget to use your protein after your session!!