Squatting is a fundamental human movement. Just watch a toddler pick something up from the floor and slot into a perfect squat position and even stay there for a long time. Try doing that as an adult. Although we were designed to sit like this, and did through years of evolution the modern world around us has us sitting for an average of 18 hours a day. What does this mean? Tight hips, lower back and weak hamstrings and core.
As an exercise the squat is one of the foundations of any solid exercise programme and/or class. Done properly, it hits the hamstrings, quads core and upper back. We are going to show you how to squat properly (a never ending learning curve) as well add some mobility/flexibility drills to get you into better position. Squatting or not, these mobilisation drills are great for freeing a tight, bound up lower body, and helping us move better.
Ready to mobilise? Here are a few rules to abide by:
NO PAIN FACE! We’re meant to be relaxed here. As soon as there is tension in the body it translates elsewhere.
BREATHE We’re meant to open the joint capsules and encourage the musculature to relax. Slow breathing taps us into out rest and digest nervous system.
HOLD FOR 2 MINS It takes up to 2 mins for an adaptation to occur. If you cant hold for 2 mins, hold for as long as you can and accumulate a total of 2 mins per drill.
Mobilisation 1: Squat hold – Feet straight just wider than hips, place hands together, drive the elbows on the inside of the knees, keep chest tall. If this is really difficult sit against a wall. Breathe.
Mobilisation 2: Ankle mobility – stand a foot away from the wall, place heel and front foot flat on the floor and rock the weight forward hold for 3-5 secs come out of it going back and forth.
Mobilisation 3: Figure 4 – Lay on your back with arms out to side, roll knees over to the left, and place right foot on the floor above left knee, same again on the other side.
Mobilisation 4: T spine opening – Lay across a foam roller on the middle of your scapula, feet and hips on the floor, arms stretched out over head. Hold onto either a dowel rod or a towel stretched out.
So now we’re moving better it’s time to squat. There are tons of variations of the squat and no better place to start than a bodyweight. You have to earn your place under the bar and multiple reps of a bodyweight squat with proper form will build a sound movement pattern and help you cope with a load on your back.
1. Feet just wider than your hips. Turn the feet out slightly. 11 and 2 o clock.
2. Drive your feet and knees apart. Think about standing on a giant piece of paper and trying to rip it apart with your feet.
3. Squeeze the glutes, inhale fill the belly with air, exhale draw the ribcage down and brace the core, like someone is going to punch you in the stomach
4. squeeze shoulder blades, keep chin parallel to the floor, looking at the horizon point.
5. Draw the hips back, (feel it in your hamstrings) drive the knees and feet apart,
6. Keeping brace through the core and engagement of upper back extending arms forward as you descend.
7. Keeping torque through the entire body, drive your feet into the floor and squeeze your glutes as you stand up.
Done correctly 20 bodyweight squats will target the hamstrings, fire the core and get the heart rate up, burning calories and strengthening the lower body while avoiding injury. Focus on the form of your squat and the the most out of this foundational movement.
Written by Adam Willoughby