Since I’ve been working out quite much myself and am very thankful for all the great coaching that I’ve received from my boyfriend and co-owner of UnScared CrossFit, Willem Hilberdink, the last couple of months, I’ve decided to start a new fitness series on my blog as part of a “How to …”. In the next couple of months I’ll introduce you to a correct back squat, front squat, deadlift, pull-ups and other important skills that you require to improve your technique and increase the weights you are able to lift. Since the (back) squat was one of the first things I started to practice myself, I want to pass on the knowledge I’ve acquired over the last couple of months. The best way to improve my skills was by doing lots of mistakes that my coach picked out and corrected by explaining the right movement and giving me advice on necessary stretching, for instance.
Why you should do squats
Doing squats on a regular basis will give you strong legs, a nice round butt and also trains your abs. And another good side effect: it makes your back stronger which prevents back pain when you make long hours behind your desk.
Doesn’t matter if you are really strong or just starting with your first squats, you should never skip the warming up. You’ll get a better feeling for the weights and prevent injuries, if you stick to it.
Step 1: Place the bar
While the barbell is hanging on the rack, you try to find a good position of your hands. Your grip should be a little wider than your shoulders (depending on your flexibility). Then you put yourself under the bar to place the bar on your upper-back and not on your neck. Most people prefer to place the bar quite high like I’m doing on these pictures which will also help you to stay upright in your squat.
Step 2: Get into a good starting position
Before you descend into your squat, make sure that you are quite straight and that your elbows show to the direction of the floor! The position of your elbows will be really important because it helps to keep your chest up, so you don’t fall forward with the weight.
Step 3: Squat!
Now you can finally squat! While going down, watch your elbows as mentioned and make sure that your knees stay in line with your toes. It’s ok if the knees go past the toes, even though most trainers mistakenly say it’s not ok. The most common mistake is probably the position of the knees. I always did the same and still must remind myself every time. Try to keep them outside as much as possible and never forget to push your chest up and have your lower-back as straight as possible. You should squeeze your abs as tight as possible throughout the movement.
At the bottom, you must have your hip joint lower than your knees, otherwise it’s not a real squat.
Step 4: Lift the weights!
Don’t pause very long at the bottom, just a second, and then push yourself up to the starting position. Now it’s important that your knees are in line with your toes: if your knees tend to come in, make sure you push your knees out throughout the movement. Your elbows should face the floor to support the weight and make sure your chest is still up and your lower back is as straight as possible. Another advice that I received a while ago: Try to bring your hips forward while going up again! The strength is supposed to come from your legs and hips.