This month will be broken down into four steps in which you can better improve and work on your squat technique! This is not to say there are only four ways in which to improve your squat technique, but rather many. Let’s start with the following four and see how much we can progress based on drilling these techniques before worrying about all the other complicated aspects of the squat.
Step 1 - Know your body, and know your squat!
Understand that not everyone squats the same. Anthropometry: The measure of the human body/individual; used by coaches to say: Everyone is built differently and thus, should move relatively different than one another.
Here are the types of people you are (one of these three):
1. Short torso/Long trunk (Coach JMo)
2. Equal torso-to-trunk (Coach MJ)
3. Long torso/Short trunk (Coach Jeff)
Depending on your torso-to-trunk ratio, you will have different foot placement from one another.
Step 2 - Understand the muscles!
Yes, squatting is a natural process of sitting down and standing up, but last time we checked, we are adding loads, and in some cases, extreme loads to the system and process. Thus, you should understand exactly what is going on and be able to walk yourself through it mentally as you squat.
1. The foot, activation of the three arches, is quintessential for set up. This prevents medial collapse and energy leaks when pressing to drive up.
2. The joints (ankle, knee and hip) all work together, NOT independent of one another. Do not think of the squat as a sequential system, but rather, a synchronized.
3. Skeletal muscle aka the leg muscle, work around the joints, not through the joints. Meaning, the joints should NOT move when squatting.
4. The spine should stay as neutral and vertical as possible during the process.
Understanding this process and being able to articulate will better allow your body to apply stress autonomically, thus decreasing your chance of injury.
Step 3 - Form, rhythm, and timing.
The squat takes practice, and whether you are lifting for reps, or a max, you should have control of your form, rhythm and timing.
1. Your form will solidify as you master steps 1 and 2.
2. Your timing will take practice
3. Your rhythm will take even more practice.
You will find that often times, you can lift the same if not more weight easier with good form, timing, and rhythm.
Step 4 - Maintenance!
Your squat will cause your muscle to get stronger and tighter and your joint to follow suit. You need to learn how to maintenance your body during this process. Your squat should get deeper and more comfortable over time, NOT the other way around!
1. Ankles need to be stabilized and mobilized.
2. Knees: Leave them alone (see below).
3. Quads: The main reason your knees and hip flexors hurt. These puppies need a ton of love and attention.
4. Hips and back muscle will also need massage/trigger point and TLC!
5. Don’t forget to unlock your Psoas muscles!
This is a lot of information to take in, and is literally just the tip of the iceberg for ONE of our strength movements! Over the month of April, we will incorporate ways to help you create some structure to walk through these steps to help better your progress towards your squat/strength/power goals! Also, this should be a humble reminder to the intricacies that come along with proper strength and conditioning and that movement should not be taken for granted, but practiced, and applied with precision!