Squats 101: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Squats are a core exercise which is why it’s important to do them right otherwise you risk injury. In this video, we talk about how to do a squat with the right mechanics. (With Shadow’s help of course!) Enjoy!

Gillian: Bring your hands to your hips. So we want to go into a squat by maintaining the weight through your feet. The main thing is through your heels without falling backwards. Your chest is open. Shoulders are open. Now take a nice little inhale. Go down into a squat just slowly reaching back, then exhale, press the floor away.

A few things to note – are you keeping your weight balanced on both legs?

Nicole: Was I leaning?

Gillian: Yeah, a little bit. And another thing you may notice / a good way to check, is to just take a look at your kneecaps. Are they level? are they slightly rotated? So you want to continue breathing through this. How’s that feeling?

Nicole: Feeling good.

Gillian: So sometimes people want to bring their hands forward and gives them that extra balance and allows them to sit back a little further.

Nicole: One of the keys that I like to say is “start the motion with the hips.”

Gillian: Yes.

Nicole: Now it depends on the client, but starting the motion with the hips, then you get that backwards sort of feeling. Otherwise, people think, “Oh go down. Then it looks like this…” *knees jut forward and spine stays upright*

Gillian: Yes…

Nicole: Okay, I’m going down. And then it looks like this *heels come up* and people think “Oh my God, my knees. I really hate squats. My knees hurt.” That’s because we’re shifting the weight onto the forefoot.

Gillian: Yes because a lot of people will tend to go forward.

Nicole: Then it turns into this quad dominant movement. Where want we is to get the glutes. You want to sit onto the heels and midfoot, toes are touching the floor. They’re just light.  You’re going to sit the hips back. So Gillian said reach back like there’s a stool behind you. A dirty toilet seat is another one that I use. People get that. Sit the weight back. And when you’re new, you may have that sensation of falling back. That’s okay. You’re just finding your edges, “like how much this way. Nope, how much this way.”  And to counterbalance, you have to put your head forward.

Gillian: Absolutely. Another little thing is if you have trouble engaging your gluteal muscles, sometimes if you’re just pushing out through the sides when you’re coming back up like you want to spread the floor apart, you can get into the gluteal muscles and they assist you with that hitch extension.

Nicole: So the thing with that cue is when we demonstrate, it doesn’t look like we’re doing anything. But the action is I’m pushing with my feet this way, but obviously, your feet aren’t going to go anywhere so you’ll get more of that glut engagement and then with the upper body like I said – this is a complex movement.

Gillian: It is. It’s a multi-joint action going on here.

Nicole: in order to sit the hips back, you have to bring your head forward. Sometimes you’ve heard the cue, keep your back straight. And people interpret it as keep your back upright. I can still bring it forward and it’s still straight. Yes versus this.

Gillian: The tightness here and tuck the tailbone under.

Nicole: One other cue with the upper body is to maybe look forward versus looking down.

Gillian: Yes.

Nicole: Because if you look down that it brings you into this collapsed position. I had an old instructor who used to talk with the power position. And could you imagine if you going to receive something and you’re just like get into the power position. And you’re like, okay, Jimmy jump and you can catch them. Now, imagine doing it like this – you instinctively know this is wrong. This just doesn’t feel strong. Whereas when you’re here, it just feels more powerful because it is. Right? Your spine is aligned. Abs are engaged. We didn’t talk about that.

Gillian: Not yet. No, we didn’t.

Nicole: So abs are engaged as we’re always trainers, always like, are your ads on or your ads on

Gillian: If you want to generate that force. You have to have your core muscles engaged here.

Nicole: Now Shoulders are down, neck is long, neutral position. Lots of stuff going on in the squat. We wanted to feel this mostly here, but we didn’t want to neglect to address your upper body positioning as well.

Gillian: When we say shoulders down, we don’t mean like pressing down like this and creating tensions through the neck, or you want to just keep them out of your ears versus seeing them open

Nicole: So if you find that this is happening and you’re like: “I don’t know how to stop this. Maybe your squats are just here right now.”

Gillian: Exactly.

Nicole:  Like you’re just testing your edges. Where can you go with a neutral position? This is fine. For now, we’ll probably just encourage this for now. We’ll address that in another video, but for your basic squat, just take it to a high stool position. Get comfortable with that motion and then we’ll expand from there.

Gillian: That was good. Cool. Excellent. Thanks

Nicole: Thanks Shadow for your help.

Gillian: Shadow was in the middle of it all.


Related Posts