In another instalment of one of his popular newsletters Y3T founder Neil Hill shares valuable tips on how to squat correctly.
The issue with squatting
There is no question that squatting is one of the best ways to add muscle mass to your thighs whilst also improving overall physical conditioning. It is hugely demanding, leading to great calorie expenditure whilst eliciting an anabolic hormonal response.The issue with squatting is that most people don’t do it correctly. Due to the nature of this exercise when it is done wrong it can lead to injuries as well as poor progress.
Here are some practical tips on ways to improve your squatting:
Set up correctly
Your set can be ruined if your set up is wrong. The positioning of the bar, your posture and stance all make a massive difference to the way you squat. This can change the way you’re able to stimulate muscle fibres, build strength as well as squat safely so please take note!
- Where the bar sits is crucial, many people have it far too high up on their neck. This means the weight pushes their torso forwards, leading to terrible form as well as risking the chance of injury. Whilst there is not one perfect approach because we’re all different, most people will find having the bar resting across their traps is the best place to start from. Push your shoulders back, get your hands under the bar so that your elbows are locked in and pointing downwards.
- Stance is another subjective thing, however, make sure you feel set before starting! Feeling strong with your stance is crucial to squatting properly. In most instances a shoulder width stance works well – some biomechanical limitations can sometimes mean a slightly wider stance might work better.
Move the right way
If you watch the average person squat they fail to get close to parallel in depth and look very unstable. Start your set by moving the right way – this means leading with your back side first, not your knees!
If you start by breaking at the knees they will end up too far forwards which leads to your heels coming off the floor. Once this happens your set is never going to be as effective as it should be, there will also be a lot of stress on your knees and lower back in this instance.
Look at your depth
Depth is key when squatting otherwise the amount of muscle fibre recruitment you’re able to achieve becomes limited, as with any exercise range of motion matters! Many of the things I’ve already covered will help achieve depth. Some people have longer levers than others which makes depth more difficult, but improving ankle and hip mobility can help. In the short term gently elevating the heel with lifting shoes or small plates will help achieve this – in the longer term performing daily mobility drills is the best route.
Build form, then weight
Focus on getting all of the above correct first, then build your weight! It is such a complex exercise with so many variables that you cannot afford to build your weight on unstable foundations. This will increase your chances of injury significantly whilst limiting your progress as well.
Once you’ve developed your form and you’re building the weight remember to never make any compromises.
As an IFBB Pro I was squatting over 5 plates aside for reps and I used exactly the same form as when I was warming up with 1 plate aside. That’s what you need to focus on!
P.S. Practise with light weight, use pauses at the bottom to get accustomed with the depth and learn this exercise properly. Film yourself in order to watch where you’re going wrong.
Subscribe to the Y3T Newsletter for top training, nutrition and supplementation tips from Neil Hill, trainer to IFBB Pro bodybuilders like William Bonac and Flex Lewis. Go to www.y3tdisciple.com and learn from one of the best in the bodybuilding business.