Over the years i've seen my fair share of poor squats.
Excessive forward lean, heels coming off the floor, knee's collapsing inwards and hips swinging from left to ring and vice versa on the way down and on the way back up.
You could argue that some individuals shouldn't be squatting at all, but when it's one of the most used movement patterns on a daily basis, the fact it's a huge calorie burner along with shape changer, when it comes to your legs, bum and physique all together, you'd be stupid not to look to improve your squat technique as much as you could.
That way, you'll be under the bar sooner, rather than later.
Now I understand that some individuals may have more imbalances, postural defects and weak links than others, so take these 3 tips as you will.
But if you know, which I'm sure you will, that your squat needs to improve, you may want to start applying the following into your pre-squat routine, your warm up and into your rest periods when it is Leg Day once again.
Tip #1 - Foam Roll / Fascia Release Your Feet.
Using a tennis ball, or a golf ball if you're brave, release the fascia beneath your feet.
Using the RPE Scale (Rate Of Perceived Exertion) or pain level in this case, self myofascial release the bottom of each foot, one at a time. Applying enough force through the foot to reach a 7/8 out of 10 on the RPE Scale.
During this exercise you should feel the fascia release, enhancing the arch in the foot and improving ankle mobility. These two alone will help improve your Squat.
You can add this exercise in to your pre-squat routine, or even into your rest periods if you squat bare foot.
Tip #2 - Hip Flexor Stretch.
With our current lifestyles being predominately in seated positions, behind a desk, curled up on the sofa, behind the wheel of your car, your body gets 'used to' specific positions, muscle lengths / tension relationships and something called adaptive shortening.
One of the main area's which become short as a result of the above is your Hip Flexors. A group of muscles which cross over the front of your Hips. These muscles become short and more than likely tight as a result of the constant folded position they sit in.
Using the stretch below, working on the flexibility of your Hip Flexors will not only open up your hips, but will also enable the glutes & hamstrings to reach their full potential without being inhibited by the former.
You can add this stretch in to your pre-squat routine, or even into your rest periods to enhance your Squat.
Tip #3 - Switch On Your Glutes.
Firing up, or even just activating your Glutes tends to be a task that most struggle with. If the connection between your Brain & your Muscle isn't there, how do you expect to stimulate the muscle, squeeze the contraction and develop / change the muscle you're targeting?
Having conducted many Glute Activation tests over the years, it's fair to say that most using their Hamstrings more, and before, their Glutes. Often resulting in the Hamstrings over working and the Glutes being left under-developed.
By activating your Glutes, switching them on and making a conscious effort to engage with the muscle, through your brain-to-muscle signals, you will work them a lot more during the Squat, and therefore squat better, stronger, and no doubt deeper.
A simple Glute Activation exercise would be The Bridge. However there are many to choose from which can be more advantageous.
But for the sake of this article, give this one a go.
Hold The Bridge at the top of the movement (Knees, Hips & Shoulders in alignment) for 10-15 seconds, really focusing on squeezing the Glutes and making that neural connection.
Perfect to add into your pre-squat routine or even in to your rest period.
If you implement the above into your training programme, you'll no doubt see an improvement into your squatting technique, the range of which you can perform a squat and also how much more development you can achieve as a result.
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