So, last but not least in our series regarding form and technique for the major “big three” barbell lifts is the squat. Many people hold the squat in high regard. Athletes call on squats as one of the main tools to develop lower body strength and power and bodybuilders utilize them to build massive legs. However, many people are mislead and often do not practice proper form and technique. In light of this, results are not maximized, and neither is performance. In addition, injury can occur and sometimes can be major. In order to ensure you are performing the squat in a proper manner, here are some technique considerations and cues that will help you get in the right position.
Feet Shoulder Width Apart
While comfort is also important for maximum efficiency, a stance that is too wide or too narrow can make it more difficult to generate necessary torque. We will see how this comes into play with our next cue.
Screw Feet To The Floor (Tear The Giant Piece of Paper)
As I mentioned above, torque is a necessity will all barbell lifts. With the squat, proper torque will help place your hips, knees, and back in the right position and limit unnecessary strain placed on these parts of the body. A good cue to use to help generate torque is screwing your feet into the floor (right foot clockwise and left foot counter clockwise). Another way to think about it is to imagine that the floor beneath you was a giant piece of paper. If you wanted to tear that paper down the middle without moving any parts of your body, you would accomplish this by driving your feet and screwing them into the floor.
Grip The Bar With Your Middle Finger On The Rings
This will put your hands in the proper position on the bar
Break The Bar
To create torque in the upper body, you must externally rotate your shoulders. If you were to try breaking the barbell and rotate your right hand clockwise and your left hand counter clockwise you will achieve this.
Unrack and Perform Lat Pull Down
Imagine performing a lat pull down with the bar to properly engage your lats and ensure that your elbows are in and remain under the bar
Let Your Hips Lead First
The bar is on your back, you have taken it off the rack, and you’re ready to squat. It is imperative that you load most of the weight onto your hips, glutes and posterior chain instead of your knees. A good way to cue this and make sure your knees to not move forward and take on undue stress is to cue the hips to move first. The first part to move will take on most of the load, and continuing to sit back and drive back with your hips will make sure that your knees to not cast forward.
Chest Out and Drive The Bar Straight Up
These cues are critical to promote proper posture throughout the lift and make sure that your upper body does not fall forward as you return the weight from the bottom of the squat. Driving your chest out and returning in a straight line exactly from where you came will help keep your upper body in the proper position.
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.