How to Squat Right: A Complete Guide

On the study of biomechanics and squatting techniques, Lane Norton, a powerlifter and a bodybuilder with a degree, spent many years. Take advantage of his instructions and recommendations, learn to squat right, and one day you will become a proud owner of gigantic legs!

Author: Lane Norton, Ph.D.

Once I was an ordinary guy with thin legs. Why? Because he did not squat. I thought out all the new excuses, just to not squat: it's bad for the spine, knee joints suffer from knee bends, the exercise is too difficult. To escape from squats and calm my conscience, I performed all the other leg exercises, but the muscles stubbornly refused to grow.

One day all this bored me. I was tired of losing legs and set myself a serious task: to learn to squat with a weight exceeding 225 kg. After many years of hard training, careful planning, studying the intricacies of technology and biomechanics exercises, I achieved the goal. My one-time maximum in sit-ups is 300 kg. And I'm pleased to say that thanks to the work done and kilotons of lifted weight, my legs no longer look like matches.

If you want to pump up strong and powerful leg muscles, remember one rule: you have to squat!

Attention to detail!

Outfitting always affects the result, especially when the heavy barbell is on your shoulders during the exercise. Let's talk about the elements of equipment that will help you achieve high results.

The main task of sneakers or tennis shoes is a uniform distribution of body weight and shock absorption of the foot. In powerlifting, we all do not need it. During the squat, you start off from the ground, and the laws of physics say that at that moment the force of opposition comes from the support. What happens when shoes with cushioning properties are on their feet? In an enclosed mechanical system, an object appears that steals part of the kinetic energy from you. In addition, in such shoes it is more difficult for you to control the position of the body. If you squat in sneakers, you know that your knees often fall inward, and in general you are not so confident standing on your feet.

I recommend the use of shoes on a firm sole. A good choice will be the usual sneakers, but I prefer shoes for powerlifting, or pins. Advantage of rods is that they have a very dense sole with a small hard heel.

With a slightly raised heel, you will take a more ergonomic position and be able to push off the heel and middle of the arch of the foot. So effective.

Do I need to use a weightlifting belt? Yes, in squats he can play the role of a secret ingredient. The hard belt will become something like a fulcrum for your body, fix the lumbar region and help keep your back in neutral.

The opinion that the weightlifting belt weakens the back muscles is very far from the truth. Science shows that the use of the belt does not weaken, but strengthens the muscles of the trunk, because the belt gives them a support, on which you can lean and from which you can push.

The problem is that many athletes fix the belt too low. A weightlifting belt should not hang around the waist, its place around the abdominal wall, for which it will become support and support. Find the point at which the strained abdominal wall maximally protrudes, and fasten the belt at this level.

I advise you to buy a tight curved belt with a width of at least 10 cm and a thickness of at least 10-13 mm.

Knee pads and knee braces hold heat and provide additional support to knee joints. I like the usual elastic knee like a sleeve. They can be quickly stretched and just as quickly removed without unnecessary effort and body movements. In addition, there is evidence that knee braces create excessive pressure on the knee cap.

I am pleased to know that I, and only I raise the bar, and in a new personal record there is no merit of knee fixators.

Many of you rub your hands with chalk. Chalk absorbs moisture, and you get a better grip on the neck. However, since during the squat the bar rest peacefully on your shoulders, there is no pressing need for chalk in your hands.

However, if you squat with a low rod fixation, chalk can come in handy. It will help you to hold the bar on your back and will not let it spin. So I recommend taking a large piece of chalk and rubbing your back. Do not be afraid to smudge a T-shirt with a chalk, especially if you are going to take a heavy weight.

If during the sit-ups you fix the bar at the level of the trapezius muscles, the wrist straps can not be used. But if you prefer to lock the bar lower, at the level of the rear deltas, you will need them. Fist shoulder straps will fix the wrist and help avoid pain in the wrist and elbow joints.

Many athletes too low wrap their wrists with straps, which is wrong. From the wrist straps located at the level of the brush, the sense is not enough. To provide the joints with reliable support, you should cover the area above and below the wrist joint with straps.

When it comes to squatting, many just climb into the bar, remove it from the stops and begin to perform the exercise. Not the best strategy. You must have a reliable plan of action, starting with the adoption of the starting position and ending with the exit from under the projectile.

Stand under the bar and fix it on your back in the desired position. Remember, your center of gravity is in the same plane with the center of the foot, and the working weight should remain in this plane. Take a deep breath. Squeeze the buttocks and feed the pelvis forward to remove the bar from the stops.

After you have removed the projectile, you can move away from the counter. I do it in three steps, because it's so much easier, more efficient and more reliable. After removing the bar, let it calm down, do not rush to step back. When you are ready, take a small step with one foot. Fixing the foot in a stable position, take a slightly larger step with the second leg. Finally, rearrange the first leg so that both legs are on the same line.

Now you can correct the position of the feet. I do not advise putting your feet too close together or too wide. Place your feet as if you were about to jump.

The next important point: do not turn your feet too much. If the rotation angle approaches 45 degrees, you overdid it. In fact, to give the optimal position to the feet is very simple: once you lifted the bar and took the starting position, strain the gluteus muscles. This will naturally turn the feet at the right angle.

Most athletes during work with large weights give the muscles too little oxygen. Before squatting, imagine that this is your last breath, and in a second the whole room will be filled with water. A deep breath will help you tighten the abdominal wall and include deep abdominal muscles. In addition, with a deep inspiration followed by a delay in breathing, it will be easier for you to keep your back in a neutral position.

After taking a deep breath, stretch the abdominal muscles, move the abdominal wall forward, but do not exhale. Do not try to "squeeze" the abdominal muscles, but how to push the abdominal wall out. Imagine that I want to punch you in the stomach. How would you do in this case? You would strain. Do the same during squats. The abdominal wall helps to stabilize the lower back. Be sure to make sure that it is tense.

Many refer to squats, both to up and down movements. In fact, it is also a movement forward and backward. Collect full lungs of air, stretch the muscles of the trunk, connect the gluteal muscles and start hip movement back. Sit down between your legs.

Using the muscles of the thighs, buttocks and lower back, you engage the strongest and largest muscle arrays of your body. If you do everything correctly, then, reaching the bottom point, you will have to start to rise naturally.

Starting up, think not only about moving up. Squeeze the gluteal muscles and direct the hips forward. Even if you are already halfway through, block the desire to jerk up and continue to think about moving the hips forward.

After completing the squat, strain the gluteus muscles. This will help you to perfectly align the spine and hips in the same plane with the bar.

Having lowered, turn knees outside so that they looked in one direction with the toes. Do not let your knees fall or go forward. The movement of the knees forward stretches the calf muscles, which causes you to lean forward. What does this lead to? Leaning forward too much, you risk bending your back, which is very dangerous.

In addition, the movement of the knees forward can force you to stop ahead of time, and to maximize the growth of strength and mass, full-amplitude squats are needed.

I constantly hear how mentors require their wards to keep their back straight. In general, this is correct, but there is one nuance. Even if you really want to keep your back upright, the angle will vary depending on your physique. If you have long thighs and a short torso, you will have to lean forward harder to sit deep enough and hold the bar above the center of the foot. People with short femurs and a long trunk will find it easier to stay in a position close to vertical.

No matter how much you lean forward, keep your back in neutral. In the neutral position, the back remains straight, even when you lean forward. Danger appears when you perform a so-called pelvic "nod" and round your lower back.

Squatting is considered deep enough if your hip joints drop below the knee level. My opinion is, crouch should be as deep as possible without risk of injury. Of course, people with long legs are harder to sit down deeply enough without a pelvic nod. However, almost everyone is able to learn to perform sufficiently deep squats.

In any phase of squatting, the rod should remain in the plane that passes through the center of the foot, or be in the immediate vicinity of this plane. In this case, the bar is directly above your center of gravity, and you can transfer the maximum force from the legs of the bar.

Of course, even if you do really good squats, the barbell trajectory may not be perfectly vertical. Everything is fine. However, keep in mind that the smaller the deviation of the projectile from the given plane, the more effective and simple will be the movement.

Most likely, most of you fix the bar at the level of trapezius muscles. It is really much easier for many to squat with a high fixation of the bar, besides it is so much more convenient and easier to keep your back straight. However, there are athletes who prefer to lock the bar lower.

With a low fixation, the bar is lowered by 5 cm below the trapezoids to the level of the rear deltas. This position is considered less comfortable for the muscles of the shoulder girdle, but the huge advantage of low rod fixing is that it gives a power gain to most people. With a low fixation of the bar, you start crouching with a slight inclination forward, most importantly, do not forget to keep your back straight during the descent.

To fix the bar in this position, use the narrowest grip as possible. Place the bar on the trapezius muscles, as with a high fixation, and let it slide down to the next ledge. When the bar stops, you will feel it. Here, fix it.

Which variant of fixing the projectile is right for you? I advise you to try both. As a rule, chunky people are more suited to high fixation of the bar, and people with long legs and a short body can have the liking of fixing the projectile at the level of deltoid muscles.

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