Today I am lucky to have Toronto-based, IFBB Certified BodyBuilding & Fitness Trainer Kian of Kian Fit stopping by to kick some knowledge on the squat.
More specifically, things you should stop doing when setting foot into the squat rack.
The benefits of the squat go far beyond just building monster tree-trunk legs and being one of the most functionally applicable exercises in the gym.
Each time you step into the squat rack, you are doing some pretty epic things:
- Increases hormonal balance. If you are looking to balance out your hormones throughout your body, I would recommend considering squats as a great way to do this. For those who are dealing with andropause, squats are a huge help to regulate testosterone and growth hormones. Even if your goal is upper body growth and definition, squats should be included into your work out routine.
- Builds stability in your body. Your legs are your foundation and carry you around everywhere. Just like a tree trunk supports it’s branches your legs need to be able to carry your weight and have stability when you’re moving around. Walking on them all day puts considerable pressure on your knees and ankles. By strengthening your legs, you’re using muscle to provide additional support for those joints.
- Powers your glutes. Strong glutes are a huge factor in improving your core strength maximizing your efforts with other training exercises. In the pool, on the sporting field, and in day to day life, your legs will feel more connected to your body and your posture as well as kicking ability will improve. Not only will your butt look great, you’ll be improving overall performance as well.
Things to Stop Doing When You Are Doing Squats
1. Don’t Go Without a Spotter.
Each squat puts you in a vulnerable position like no other exercise. Having a well-trained spotter will result in less injury, especially if you’re going to be lifting at your upper limits.
Keep in mind though, that regardless of the fact you have a spotter, you always have to stick on, or close to your weight limit. Otherwise, as a result you’ll end up with some sort of injury.
2. Don’t Squat on a Smith Machine.
The forced line of movement that the Smith Machine locks you into puts you in a more likely position to round your back as you begin your upward thrust.
This is the last thing you want and makes the Smith Machine a bad squatting choice.
3. Don’t Use A Heel Block.
Just like platform shoes, heel blocks belong in the 1970’s. A block placed under your heels will not make the movement safer, nor allow you to handle more weight.
What it will do though, is cause you to lean over slightly, and in the process round your back. This place more pressure on the knees and lower back and could cause injury.
The best use for that block is quite frankly, a door stop.
4. Don’t Squat Without Shoes.
The far opposite to squatting with a heel block is squatting barefoot, because you lose the support of the shoe and therefore the arch formed by the natural shape of your foot has gone.
Now, you wouldn’t think this would cause much of a difference, but you’d be wrong.
In this case, completely flat footed (i.e. shoeless) squatting will place a lot more of a workload on the glutes than the quads. You’ll end up looking like a chicken – all thigh and no butt.
It will also make you more prone to a foot slippage, because you’ve lost the grip from your shoes and that could end your squatting (not to mention your walking) days forever.
5. Don’t Look Down.
Try looking down at your toes right now. Notice what has happened to your lower back? It’s become rounded – enough said.
If you suffer from travel sickness, this will also stop you from feeling dizzy at all when you stand up.
6. Don’t Hunch Over.
Okay, so I’m laboring the point here – but going by the number of guys I’ve seen squatting themselves right into a mobility scooter, it’s a point that I think needs laboring.
Not only does hunching over and leaning forward dramatically increase your risk of lower back injury, it also defeats the prime purpose of the exercise. At the end of the day the squat is a quadriceps exercise, with some handsome looking side effects for the glutes. Leaning forward robs the quads of much of the effect, placing undue stress on the trunk extensors (hamstrings, glutes and spinal erectors).
Bottom line here is when you’re working out, keep your ego in check and never sacrifice good form (back arched) for heavy weight. That expression you make when your straining too hard isn’t pretty either.
More Squat Resources
5 Best Squat Wedges for Better Squats. Stuck with your squat? Squat wedges can help you smash through. Here’s a breakdown of the best squat wedges and blocks for powering up your squats.
6 Best Knee Wraps for Squats (and Crushing PR’s). Tackle heavy squats with confidence with the best knee wraps for squatting.
The Best Safety Squat Bars. Safety squat bars are a great way to lift with better posture, avoid injury, and strengthen your main lifts. Here’s a breakdown of the best safety squat bars on the market.
5 Best Squat Shoes for Women (and Why You Should Be Wearing Them). The right squat shoes protect your ankles, help you squat with better form, and help you lift more weight. Here’s a breakdown of the best squat shoes for women.
How to Do Squats Without a Squat Rack. No squat rack? No worries. Here are some effective barbell squat alternatives that you can do to conquer leg day.
Squat Rack vs Smith Machine: Pros, Cons, and Best Time to Use Each. The squat rack and Smith machine look similar, but vary widely in function and results. Here’s a detailed look at the differences between a squat rack and a Smith machine.