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How to do the perfect squat

A body weight squat pops up quite often in Get Fit Today sessions, and it’s important to make sure you do it right. The reason we use the ‘bodyweight’ squat so often is tht it uses more than 200 upper and lower body muscles, is safe to perform and can improve your total body strength.  However, if done wrong it can put undue pressureon your knees and lead to back pain as well, so it’s important to know how to do it correctly and for the best results: 

Common mistakes

  1. Lifting your heels off of the floor. Your heels should stay in contact with the floor throuhgout the exercise. As you start lowering into a body weight squat, your weight shifts back onto your heels. This shift helps keep your knees from pushing too far forward over your toes. If you shift your weight forward on to the balls of your feet, your knees will push forward past your toes which places undue stress on your knee joints, which can lead to back pain.

  2. Bending over too far. If at any point during the squat, you find yourself looking at the floor, this is probably because your back isn’t straight and you are bent forwards. Straighten your back and push your chest out.

  3. Extending your knees too far forwards. For a quick check of proper knee placement, look down during a squat to see if the tips of your toes are visible—if so, you’re probably good, and if not, you need to sit back a little bit more

  4. Squatting TOO low! Going past the 90 degree point in a squat puts a lot of stress on knees and quad muscles, and doesn’t provide enough leverage to push from your glutes as you stand up. It also may increase potential for lower back injury.

  5. Pushing up from your toes. On the upward part of the exercise, the push to lift your body up should come from driving your heels into the ground, rather than from your toes. Pushing up from your toes will naturally lean your body forwards and place more stress on the knees.

How to perform the ‘perfect’ body weight squat

To start, stand with feet about shoulder-width distance apart.

  • Keeping the heels rooted to the floor, push your hips back and descend slowly as if sitting into a chair. Breathe in as you lower down in the squat and try to fill your belly (not chest) with air.

  • Keep the eyes gazing forward and stop lowering when you reach 90 degrees with your knees.

  • At this point, your weight should be evenly balanced between your heels and the balls of your feet.

  • Pause for a count and then press through your heels to stand back up, driving your hips forward. Keep the shoulders back and chest out. Breathe out slowly as you raise up from the squat.

Have another look at the image at the top of this squat to see it performed correctly. Consider asking friend or family member to film you performing 10 squats and have a look back at your form. Is your back straight, head relaxed, eyes looking forward, feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing slightly outwards, thighs parallel with the floor, heels staying on the floor, knees not going to far forward.....? There’s a lot to think about isn’t there 🤔

Done correctly, squats are an AMAZING exercise and will give you that tight bum you’ve always wanted (gents!). Of course, the best way to practice your squat technique is to come along to some Get Fit Today outdoor group fitness sessions in Abington Park. If you think you are ready to try us for FREE, click this link! 😀👍

Until next time, keep squatting....

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