Squat technique is different for everyone, your genetics determine your bone structure and this will dictate your stance width, depth and position of your feet that works best for you. Try out different squat positions to see what works best and stick with it.
What is a squat? The basic squat is an extremely effective lower body move that strengthens all leg muscles including glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. Squats come with many different variations. Some example include:
- Double leg
- Single leg
back (high or low bar) and front squats
- Box squats
- Pause squats
- Kettlebell squats
- Dumbbell squats
Squatting is a very popular exercise for all ages and abilities, some squat to increase athletic ability, some do it for aesthetics and some squat to squat more weight. In-fact, the ability to squat well can predict your health and life expectancy (see the “timed up and go” test for the elderly). Interestingly the squat is commonly used to increase the muscle around the bum (“glutes”), however, this is mostly false. The squat activates the quads (muscles at the front of the thigh) far more than the glutes. Other exercises such as the hip thrust or the donkey kick would be a better choice for building the glutes.
How to squat
In general, we should aim to get to a parallel position (hip joint in line with knee) whilst maintaining a straight spine to reduce the risk of a lower back injury. However, the way we get to this position may be vastly different from person to person.
Differences in the bones shapes themselves (and limb length compared to torso) will dictate your stance width, position of your feet, amount of forward lean when squatting, etc.
So how do we work this out? Well if you have access to an X-ray machine and a skilled strength and conditioning coach you may be able to find this out from some measurements of your pelvis from the X-ray. However, most people obviously don’t have access to this kind of equipment but there is an easy way without this equipment. To find your best squat position the simple answer is to try different stances and different foot positions until you find one that is most comfortable and you can keep your spine straight and stick to it. It’s that simple. But do not doggedly attempt to keep your feet shoulder width apart and toes facing forward, it is fine to squat narrower or wider, it’s what works for you.
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