Today, we are talking about one of the greatest exercises to build muscle mass and as a strength and power builder, yes, we are talking about THE SQUAT.
The squat is a basic exercise, which involves many muscles, such as the Quadriceps, Femoral, Glutes, all muscles of the hip, lower back, upper back that is why it is a FUNDAMENTAL exercise in strength and weight loss training. With so many muscles involved, it works the whole body completely.
Stabilizers are involved a lot: the abdomen, for example, is in charge of pushing our spine in an isometric way so as not to give forward or backward, this also happens with the muscles that surround our ankles.
Perhaps you have read that the squat is a very harmful exercise, this is not true, the reason is simple and logical, it is harmful like all exercises if you do not exercise it with proper technique and weight.
What do we need to perform the squat correctly?
- To perform the squat correctly, it is convenient to have a structure like the one that we indicate below, this type of structure will allow us to be able to remove the bar and leave it without a problem, therefore, we will avoid problems and injuries.
- The basic movement begins with a completely upright position, where the bar must rest in the natural gap formed by the traps when we retract the scapulae (shoulders back).
- Taking out the bar is a really simple task, just stand under it and perform a small knee extension and take a couple of steps backward (don’t take a half-hour walk and go all over the gym !!), with leaving enough space so that the bar does not touch the support/structure is sufficient.
- A very common mistake is to try to pull the bar from behind, that is, by bending the trunk and making force with the lumbar, this is something that we do NOT advise since a lot of force is exerted on the lumbar and the injury is almost certain (in addition to not having sense since we move less weight than we really could).
- Before starting the lift, it is important that we fill our gut with air to increase intra-abdominal pressure, just before, we take all the air we can and without releasing it we will go all the way down, in this way we protect the spine thanks to the abdomen and the extensors of the spine by an isometric contraction. We will do this in each movement, releasing the air up and catching it again.
- After this, we will start the movement by bending our knees while, at the same time, we throw our hips back as far as possible to keep a totally vertical back throughout the movement, both on the rise and on the descent.
- During the movement we must have our back completely straight, we must try not to tilt the torso forward or tilt it as strictly necessary, in this way we will avoid an excessive load on the lumbar. This excessive load does not happen if we maintain a verticality with the back since the weight falls on the axis of our body and the lumbar does not have an extra tension.
- It is also important to note that we must keep the upper part of the back very tense when holding the bar. Maintaining this tension in the upper back will make us maintain tension in all the electors of the vertebral column, including the lumbar spine, so the risk of injury is much lower.
- During the lift, we must always look forward, with our head always straight throughout the movement, if we look down it is possible that we go forward and if we look too up, it will give us a puncture in the cervical spine.
- The weight of the bar should ALWAYS fall on the back, the arms should not exert force, but hold it lightly and balance it.
- As for the legs, separation at the height of the shoulders, feet facing forward and slightly open outwards (we must always be comfortable and stable), depending on the physiognomy of each one, we will more or less open the legs, the feet.
- The weight distribution must be equal throughout the sole of the foot, resting mainly on the heel and NOT on the toes.
- During the descent, the knees should be approximately on the toes at the end of the movement, or a little more forward as long as it is not something exaggerated.
- For the squat to occur correctly, we must take a suitable position with the hip, before performing the knee flexion, we will push the hips back and bend the knees pushing with the hips back so that in this way we do not give way forward and the knees do not go beyond the balls of the feet. By doing this, the trunk leans forward, it is essential to maintain balance and a correct verticality in the lift. The trunk is inclined to counteract the movement that we make with the hips back.
- The movement of the knees should always be a “flexion-extension” movement, that is, the knees flex and extend. In both phases, we must avoid that the knees move forward or out.
- We must be aware of the work that the glutes do, especially at the end of the movement. Activating them will keep the lumbar spine under tension and therefore reduce injuries. Being aware of this is synonymous with improving squats.
Finally, a comment on two very common mistakes:
- Leaning the trunk excessively forward so that the pressure of the lumbar is excessive. Doing this is betting on the injury, almost certainly
- Leaning forward, we support the weight on the balls of the feet and NOT on the heels. This has an “easy” solution, on the one hand, there are special Alterofilia shoes (see this review!). Another solution would be to place small discs on the heels so that the load is distributed correctly. Do you do squats?