The squat is one of the greatest exercises you can do for building all round strength and athleticism. It works a huge number of muscles throughout the entire body, makes you stronger, and gives you a juicy butt that people will want to sink their teeth into.
If you can squat well, you’ll benefit in lots of different areas and other exercises will be easier. Here’s our best advice for improving your squat:
1) Get your squat form perfect before you go heavy. You might want the kudos of putting a lot of weight on the bar, but that means nothing if you’re not squatting deep. Lower the weight as much as you need to perform the move correctly, then you can slowly increase the weight without bad form.
2) Warm up with just the bar, or very light weights – this will help you think about form before you do your full sets.
3) If your thighs aren’t parallel to the ground, keep going down. Some people will say that you need to get your ass all the way to the ground, but that’s not for everybody. You need to get your thighs parallel, at least, otherwise it doesn’t count – but how much deeper you squat beyond that is up to you.
4) If you don’t have specialist weightlifting shoes, kick off your shoes and squat in your socks/barefoot – this will give you a much more stable base. Lots of people wear inappropriate shoes for lifting (running shoes are the worst) so for squats, and deadlifts, going barefoot is better.
5) Adjust your stance if you need. There’s a lot of dogma about how far apart your feet should be, whether your knees should go over your toes, what angle your feet should be pointing at. But a lot of this depends on your personal body-shape, so feel free to experiment with a different stance if it helps you squat.
6) Use “hip-drive” – focus on pushing with the hips, not the knees. There’s a detailed explanation of what hip-drive means here.
7) Don’t be intimidated. Squatting is easy with practice. I remember the first time I squatted with just an empty bar – my body felt destroyed for a week afterwards, and I couldn’t imagine ever being able to squat serious weights like the meatheads. But I progressed, and after just a few months I was already squatting far heavier weights than I ever imagined I’d be able to. Feels good, man.
Keep at it, and one day you’ll be squatting like this lady…