Many people think that it is impossible to make a mistake with squats, but in reality it's not so simple with them. Learn the list of 10 major mistakes that are not the place on your leg training.
Author: Kiaran Ferman, Master of Science, holder of the certificate of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, and Bill Geiger
If you asked a veteran of the iron world to name the list of things without which he does not represent the day of leg training, the answer would be simple: only sit-ups.
But what about what you should not do? This is a completely different story.
In leg training, much can go wrong. Some people are limping about the technique of doing exercises, others fail to make a good leg training program, and even more, those who persistently avoid the most exhausting (read: useful) movements. Pay attention, the reason for this is the fear of various injuries, which, if properly treated, can easily be avoided.
Few brave men refer to the day of training the feet with such zeal that if they manage to leave the room without help, they think that they did not train hard enough. These guys definitely have that dedication to which we all dream, and their successes, as a rule, speak for themselves. But most of us consider foot training the worst day of the week. It is unbelievably difficult and painful, and there is nothing interesting in it.
Humble yourself with the fact that you will have a hard, exhausting training – and this can not be avoided. This is an inevitable evil, which must be tolerated for 90 minutes every five days. No doubt, you can cope with the need to go for such infrequent sacrifices in the name of a powerful and more proportional physique!
Do not change heavy exercises like squats to their simplified counterparts – platform presses with your feet and the like. Both movements presuppose straightening of the legs in the hip and knee joints, but on this the similarity between them ends. Studies have long proved that squats with a free bar cause a much more pronounced hormonal response, which is associated with the involvement of a larger muscle mass.
The bottom line is that if you want to pump more muscular legs than now, you have to get them to do more work. Leave the comfort zone. Choose more difficult exercises, for example, sit-ups with a barbell. Demand more from yourself. And find yourself a partner, at least for training your feet!
2. Do not dislodge feet in closed chain exercises
Exercises for the legs with a closed kinematic chain are exercises in which your feet rest on a fixed surface, for example, on the floor, rather than hanging in the air. In exercises of the open kinematic chain, for example, during the extension and bending of the legs in the simulator, the feet float in free flight.
Turning the feet slightly inward or outward in the extensions and flexing of the legs helps to shift the focus to a certain part of the quadriceps or muscles of the hamstrings, respectively. But when you perform multi-joint exercises such as sit-ups and bench presses with feet of impressive weight, you should not excessively turn your legs in or out, because extra pressure will be absorbed by the knees.
To do the extra risk of doing closed chain exercises, slightly unfold the feet outwards. You can safely rotate them a few more degrees if you are using a wide rack. But the harder you turn your feet outward during exercises with a closed kinematic chain, the higher the threat of injury to the knee joint.
3. Do not tear off the heels during bench press and gak squats
Look at some people during bench presses with legs or gak squats, and you'll see that their heels come off the platform at the bottom of the negative phase of the movement. Lifting the heel may be due to lack of flexibility in the ankle joint or banal wrong position of the feet, in which they are not high enough. Continue to work on the flexibility of the ankle joint and rearrange the feet so that you can push the entire foot, not some part of it.
Unfortunately, with the detachment of the heels, the area of your fulcrum becomes much smaller, and this makes it difficult to maintain balance and prevents you from performing a controlled repetition. You lose a lot and in force. Full contact of the foot with the surface allows you to generate the maximum force that goes through the heels, and when you detach the heel, this becomes impossible.
Finally, lifting the heel increases the tangential pressure (tangential) to the knees. Conclusion: you can not raise the maximum weight, you will not fully control the projectile and create an unnecessary burden on the knee joints – all this to you to nothing.
4. Do not let your knees go inside
Before us, one of the most common mistakes in exercises for the lower part of the body, especially in the squats and bench press of the feet, and even more often it is made by the representatives of the beautiful half. We should raise a big red flag, because the deviation of the knees increases the risk of injury and often leads to the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament.
All this takes place against the background of the weakness of the hip muscles, in particular, the middle gluteus. The tendency to fall in the knees inside most often manifests itself in the lower phase of squatting. To treat such a symptom is necessary in all seriousness, taking immediate steps to eliminate the problem. To avoid knee deflection:
- Do squats with bandages. Bandaging of the upper part of the knee joint creates a tension, which during the movement directs the knees to the outside.
5. Do not put off problems with the flexibility of the joints
You were specifically warned that you should not squat with the stand for the heels, because the knees at the same time are pulled out beyond the imaginary plane that passes through the toes.
The main reason for sit-ups on the pedestal for the heels (or on a small pancake) is that people do not have the flexibility of the ankle joint for sufficiently deep squats without taking off the heels off the ground. They find a "solution", putting something under their heels and, thus, lifting them above the floor. In fact, so they eliminate the symptom, but do not solve the problem.
If you are striving for high physical performance, think about throwing a stand for the heels and investing in a pair of quality shoes for powerlifting. The raised heel increases the amplitude of movements in the ankle, and this increases the depth of squats, allows the trunk to occupy a more upright position and reduces the tangential (tangential) load on the spine. In addition, powerlifting shoes are equipped with a solid heel, which allows you to generate maximum force, pushing off the floor. As a result, in the ascending phase of the movement, you become stronger.
We were often told that the exit of the knees for the plane of the socks increases the tangential load on the ligaments surrounding the knee joint. Over time, this can lead to their damage or worsen chronic knee problems.
This is exactly what happens when you squat on a stand for heels – your knees are pushed forward, and the pressure on them rises sharply. And although in the short term this can not be called a serious problem, there are no guarantees that at a long distance such practice will not lead to trauma or a knee joint disease.
Here we come to the question of the depth of squats. Is it worth it to squat as deep as possible, or is it better to stop when the hips become parallel to the floor? You probably were told to stay away from excessively deep sit-ups, as they do not benefit the knee joints.
Discussions about the individual characteristics of anatomy and physiology, and how they affect the biomechanics of squats, go far beyond the scope of this article. Simply put, people have flexibility, mobility, pelvis and hip structure, limb length and trunk length. Each of these differences affects how we crouch, and how deep we should go.
The pivot of the pelvis, or the infamous "pelvic nod", occurs quite often, especially with deep squats. In fact, such a rounding of the loin under heavy load can increase the tangential pressure on the lumbar segment of the spine, which at times increases the risk of a lumbar injury. Some associate this with flexibility in the hip joints, but anatomy (in particular, the pelvis) also plays an important role. Conclusion: crouch as deeply as your body allows. Ideally, lower the hips parallel to the floor or even lower, but this is not necessary.
Experiments on the study of muscle recruitment have shown that the activity of quadriceps reaches a maximum at 80-90 degrees, while the peak load on the gluteus and the muscles of the posterior surface are at 50-70 degrees. It is useful to crouch as deeply as possible, but it's enough to go to a parallel line. If you do not "touch the bottom of the earth", you practically do not lose anything.
6. Do not forget about the muscles of the back surface
Many believe that the muscles of the hamstrings, which formally represent a group of three muscles, do not have to be trained, since they refer to those muscles that fall out of sight. This strategy is a big mistake in terms of preserving the health of knee joints.
Injuries to the muscles of the posterior surface are common. This is due to the fact that the muscles of the posterior surface are weaker than quadriceps, which are their antagonists in the region of the knee joint. Deep muscle imbalance explains the high percentage of ruptures of the cruciate ligaments and sprains of the muscles of the posterior surface. In women, the ratio of the strength of the back muscle chain to the quadriceps is lower than that of men. In athletes with this proportion of things are even worse, so they are more at risk of stretching muscles or injuring cruciate ligaments.
To keep your joints stable and your knees healthy, you need to maintain a balance of quadriceps strength with the muscle strength of the back surface in the ratio 3: 2. It's easy to check on your ten-repeated maximum (10PM) in the leg leg folds with a weight that is at least 2 / 3 from your 10PM in leg extensions. For example, if your 10PM in extensions 75 kg, you should be able to make at least ten flexions with 50 kg. If you can not complete 10 repetitions in flexion, your knees can be seriously injured.
You may get the feeling that all these exercises from the category of squats work out the muscles of the back surface well, and in part so it is. As long as you control the descending phase while flexing the hip (moving toward the bottom of the squat), the muscle fibers of the quadriceps stretch, and the muscle fibers of the back surface contract. And the deeper you squat, the more muscle fibers involved in the process.
But do not think that sit-ups and other kinds of extension in the hip joints are sufficient for a good training of the muscles of the back surface. Although studies have shown that the muscles of the posterior surface participate in squats, the degree of their involvement leaves much to be desired.
From this it follows that you should add specific exercises for the muscles of the back surface on the day of leg training, including exercises in which you bend the legs in the knee and hip joints. This can be Romanian deadlift – a movement that is very different from the stanovaya on straight legs, ask for differences. Similar exercises are very effective in terms of strengthening the back muscle chain.
Everyone knows that you can not round your back during leg exercises, but many are guilty of such a sin, although they themselves have no idea about it. And if you are a beginner athlete, problems with keeping the flat back generally in the order of things.
In any variation of squats with a free weight, as well as a deadlift, there is a risk of rounding the lower and middle back. To protect this fragile structure, you must always keep your back in a neutral position or even with a slight deflection. Rounding the back leads to a significant – and sometimes to a very strong, weight-dependent – load on the discs, which are responsible for the mobility and flexibility of the spine. Many powerlifters with the experience of damage to the disk accumulate for years, until one day will not show trauma and pain.
Damage to discs can be very painful, and its treatment is very expensive. And even with the best medical insurance in the world, damaged intervertebral discs will never become the same. The only question is with what losses you get out of the injury, and what will be the rate of further destruction of the disks.
Again, your belief that you are doing everything right does not mean that it is so. Ask the expert to evaluate your technique during various variants of sit-ups and deadlifts, especially at the initial stages of the training career, and work on honing the technique.
By the way, trainings in simulators do not exclude the probability of such a mistake. When you deeply lower the platform in the press with your feet or in the lying squat, stop moving until the buttocks come loose from the cushion. This separation increases the pressure on the discs. Stop for a moment before the buttocks go up.
Now let's turn our attention to the upper segment of the spine – on your neck. It may seem that there is nothing criminal about picking up your head during squats, but in reality this habit can have catastrophic consequences. Squatting with a hundred kilograms on the upper trapezoids, you create a significant load on the tissues surrounding the spinal column, and at the same time on the intervertebral discs of the cervical region.
Tearing up your head to admire the ceiling during squats, you break the axial symmetry of the spine by rounding the cervical (upper) segment and create unnecessary strain on the disks. In addition, looking upwards prevents you from maintaining balance, which can result in the fall of the bar.
Another bad idea: turn your head to the right and left with a heavy barbell on your shoulders. Many powerlifters have led to injuries to the cervical segment of the spine.
The most secure position of the head is simply to look at your reflection in the mirror. This keeps your head in a secure neutral position, in which your neck is neither unbent, nor bent, and protects the intervertebral discs.
9. Do not forget that intense cardio affects leg training, and vice versa
Cardio and leg training use the same type of fuel: stored muscle glycogen. Stocks of fuel run low even after one activity, not to mention two in a row. Depending on the order of intensive cardio or strength training, the second activity on the list will suffer because of a shortage of fuel resources.
Since the lower part of the body is represented by the most powerful muscle massifs – four quadriceps parts, two gluteal muscles, three muscles of the hamstrings and two calf muscles in each leg – the restoration of energy reserves requires the intake of carbohydrates and takes a long time. If on the weekend you are going to ride a bicycle or run 10 kilometers, move the leg training deep into the working week.
It is not easier to train your legs after intense cardio. Given the fullness of the working muscles with blood and an increased level of lactic acid, the chances of doing productive training are not that great.
But light cardiovascular helps to increase blood flow, but do not count on the same intensity, as if there was no leg training after cardio. High-intensity interval training (VIIT) immediately disappears, but after strength training you can work at a quiet pace with low intensity.
10. Do not train your feet on Fridays
Many guys doubt the value of this advice, but better listen to it. If on the weekend you are going to dance, go on a hike or go skiing, the painful muscles will not just be a nuisance. Prepare for the weekend by moving your leg training on Tuesday or Wednesday.