The perfect squat is not something we do everyday. However, squatting is something we do everyday. It is a movement that does not require a lot of thought. You probably did it this morning when you went to the bathroom, lol! However, when it comes to squatting in the gym that can be another ball game. Here are some basic tips to master the “perfect” gym squat.
The Perfect Squat
Depending on what fitness professional you talk to, you might get five different answers of what they think is the perfect squat. Here is my definition of a perfect squat.: a perfect squat is a squat that your body can do according to your make up. What this means is that everyone does not squat the same. Things such as limb length, flexibility and past or current injuries can dictate how you squat. Now, there is such a thing as an ideal squat. An ideal squat, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine is:
- Start with feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Toes pointing forward, back straight.
- Squeeze the butt and pull the shoulder blades toward the spine.
- Keep eyes forward and a neutral head posture.
- Push the feet apart as if trying to spread the floor, and descend as though you’re sitting into a chair; knees should track in line with toes.
- Descend for about four seconds, with a one-second contraction back to standing. Repeat for desired reps.
Like I said, this is the ideal squat. However, if you don’t have the flexibility or strength to do so, your body may compensate. Typical squat compensations include (see pictures below): your knees moving toward each other, feet turning out, excessive forward lean of your upper body or your lower back arching or rounding.
Stretch the Calf & Hips
These two muscles are super important when it comes to the proper squat. They are responsible for helping your butt muscles move in and out of the squat. If they are not flexible, your squat form could be on shaky ground, which could lead to injuries. I recommend the following stretches to make sure these muscles are flexible.
Start With a Stability Ball
Using a stability ball or exercise ball can help keep your body in proper position. In order to do this, you would position the ball in the middle of your back against a wall. Make sure your feet are hip to shoulder distance apart. Place your hands on your hips. Slowly descend into the squat, keeping your eyes forward, as if you are sitting in a chair. Once your thighs break parallel to the floor, ascend back to the starting position and repeat for desired number of reps. I recommend 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Medicine Ball Squat
As an advanced version to the wall squat, the medicine ball squat will challenge your upper body in addition to your lower body. The set up remains the same as the stability ball wall squat, except you will hold a medicine ball in your hands at your chest to help your upper body stay upright. I also recommend 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps for this exercise. The medicine ball should most likely not exceed 8-10 lbs.
While the perfect squat may not be something one can accomplish, there is certainly an ideal squat and ways to achieve it. By following the exercises and stretches mentioned in this article, you can certainly get very close to a perfect squat! If you would like help with achieving the perfect squat, pleaseCONTACT US today!