Body Weight Squat – Exercise Tutorial
The squat is an amazingly beneficial exercise that not only targets the legs, but core and upper body too. It is great for gaining muscle, strength, flexibility and stability. Because it is a functional exercise we can benefit from the movement and the strength gained from it in every day life. Also, because it uses so many muscles together, it’s a super calorie burner!
This is a foundation exercise for beginner’s to learn and the rest of us to perfect. If done incorrectly, you may run into issues with knee, hip or back strain. If you want to know more about improving your squat or correcting these issues then I recommend you read my Squat 101 article.
Firstly the length of your legs and torso influences the knee position during your squats. So, your knees may or may not come over your toes depending on your build. Knee position is therefore irrelevant. What matters is knee stability and the following teaching points:
- Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, knees and feet turned outward – allowing the knees to open, means you can greater utilise hip mobility (Remember hips should be mobile, knees should be stable).
- Bend FIRST at the hips, then the knees, and use your hamstrings to pull your body downward (aiming for below parallel). Controlling this movement, prevents “bouncing” on the knees and also effectively works the muscles during the eccentric (downward) phase of the exercise.
- Keep the back straight and the head up throughout.
- To stand up, FIRST squeeze the glutes, then the quads (pushing them down and outward to stabilise the knees). Power the hips up then forward, NOT forward then up (this prevents the body leaning forward).
- Squeeze the glutes all the way to the top until the hips “snap” forward and the body is stable – keeping the glutes active throughout helps prevent lower back and knee injuries.
- Keep focused, keep practicing.
- Body weight first.
- Bend at the hips first.
- Practice sitting back onto a bench or chair (box squat)
- Add in split squats for “balance” between leg strength, as we all have a dominant side.
- Think glutes glutes glutes! I swear this is the best thing I ever did, was activate my glutes!
This is an excellent exercise for anyone to learn. Don’t be afraid to try.