The Perfect Squat

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Imagine being in the gym doing whatever it is you do. Bench pressing, Treadmilling, ellipticalling, procrastinating, whatever. Your attention is drawn to the squat rack, where this bro is getting hyped up by this other bro. There are like 5… thousand plates on each side of the bar. So now you’re interested. You begin to observe these apes in their natural habitat. One bro is slapping the other on the back. The lifting bro gets under the bar and sets his feet. He starts grunting and yelling in preparation. Then he lifts the bar off the rack and steps back. The Neanderthal then sucks in a ton of air and releases his barbaric scream. He lowers the bar about an inch and a half then returns to the top of the rep and racks the weight. He and his other bro begins hooting and hollering about his new PR. Then they trot off, without racking their weights, to go shower together.

Meanwhile, beside this scene from Wild&Uncut, there is a lifter with 3 plates on each side of the bar. He has the safety guards on. He prepares his self for the lift. He gets under the bar, lifts it off and takes one step back. He then squats slowly, lowering his upper legs slightly past parallel to the ground. His knees track over his second toes, his back is straight and strong. His spine is parallel with his shin bones. He brings the bar back to the top, and repeats this for a total of 3 reps.

Which one of these scenarios do you think is the better lift? If you think it is the first one, it is because you are a bro, and for educational purposes, I am required to inform you that everyone hates you.

The squat is one of the most improperly performed workouts in the gym.

I am no Olympic squat lifter, but I am a squat enthusiast with a degree in fitness and a thirst for knowledge. I’m reading a lot straight from the NASM text, but also referring back to my education.

SOOOOO Here are 5 major issues with squats

  • Thighs not reaching parallel
  • Excessive forward lean
  • Feet turning out
  • Knees caving in (knee valgus)
  • Knees moving forward of the toes

The umbrella issue with all of these is muscle imbalance and lack of flexibility.

5 Pillars of fitness:

Muscular Strength

Muscular Endurance

Cardiovascular Endurance

Body Composition


No stretch – No gains

Body is a master compensator -> This means that is will always try to find the path of least resistance.

Lack of range of motion at a joint leads to the body finding some way to make up for the imbalance. This is where your knee valgus and feet turn out and all the other compensations come from. More times than not, your imbalance is in the pelvis and hips. Even an ankle imbalance can potentially, though not always, but traced back to the pelvis.

So what imbalances are found at the hip? Obvious ones first: forward lean, pelvic tuck and pelvic tilt.

Forward lean is caused by TIGHT: hip flexors and abdominal muscles, and WEAK glutes, and low back.

Excessive low back arch or pelvic tilt is caused by TIGHT: hip flexors, low back, and lats, and WEAK: glutes, hamstrings, and core stabilizers

Pelvic tuck is caused by TIGHT: hamstrings and abs and WEAK: glutes, low back, and core stabilizers.

Knee valgus is a little less obvious, but this is caused by increased hip adductor activation, decreased hip abduction and rotation, and decreased ankle dorsiflexion, which is my issue, particularly.

Feet turn out is caused by hamstring and glutes weakness and/or tight quads and calves.

So how do we fix these things? Stretch! Strengthen weak side muscles! Train in different ways! I always stretch my calves and, if I’m going heavy, put a small plate under my heels. I also do boxe squats fairly regularly.

The plate under my heels puts my ankles in a plantarflexed position, providing more range of motion so that dorsiflexion restriction does not occur. TEMPORARY FIX. This may worsen if the issue is not addressed.

Boxe squats focus the hips and outside muscles of legs, therefore tightening them, and combating knee valgus.

But what about the knees tracking forward of toes?? Knees forward of toes is just bad form, and it creates unnecessary sheer force on the knee ligaments, and this is not good. What I like to do to train clients out of this habit is start them out by standing about a foot away from a wall, depending on the person. I then have the shoot their hips back until they hit the wall and then return to the top. I will also use the mounted suspension training straps to allow them to squat back without fear of falling. What I have found is that in most cases, people have created a mental block because they are afraid of falling, so I just give them the confidence to perform the movement without that fear.

Alright guys, so that is how to turn your squat into the perfect squat. If you found this helpful or know someone that could learn a thing or two, share this blog wherever it is you share things, tune in next week when I take you through interviewing for a job and then GETTING THE JOB, and thanks for listening!

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  1. […] Last week’s blog on The Perfect Squat can be found here! […]

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