Squats are a fantastic exercise to build muscle and endurance… when you do them properly. Keep reading to learn eight mistakes to avoid when squatting.
When it comes to squats, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I know the right squat form when I see it. Ask my clients, and they will tell you I am a little obsessive about form. I am on top of them every time we do squats to ensure every little detail is correct.
Below are the major mistakes to avoid when squatting. Avoiding these will ensure you are getting an effective workout and staying clear of injuries.
Wearing the wrong shoes
It is ideal to squat in something flat with little to no cushion. You want to feel your foot on the ground. Many people actually prefer to squat barefoot. This bodybuilding.com forum makes a defense for squatting in converse. Whatever shoe you choose, make sure it has good ankle mobility and keeps your foot flat. Avoid high tops and shoes with even the slightest heel.
Squatting on machines
Squats should be done with dumbbells, a barbell, resistance bands or nothing at all. Squats are a complex movement. You want your whole body to be working during a squat. Machines will limit your range of motion and prevent certain muscles groups from activating properly. Using a hack squat or smith machine will create bad habits. You can still use these machines every once in a while, but continue to practice your squats without them.
Arching lower back
A lower back arch can hurt your spin, put pressure on your knees, and result in many injuries. If you have to arch your back to squat, you are lifting too heavy. This fantastic NASM article will give you tips on how to fix your lower back arch.
Knees cave in
Knees caving in is another squat mistake to avoid. It is a sign of dysfunction within the muscles if your knees cave in during a squat. If this is happening to you, you likely have overactive inner thigh muscles and weak outer thigh and butt muscles. You can fix these things with corrective exercise and glute strengthening programs like the 4-Week Peach Plan.
Weight in your toes
During a squat, you should keep your weight in the back of your foot. As you lift from each squat you need to push through the heels to activate the correct muscles. If your weight is on your toes, you may hurt your knees.
Not focusing on the right muscles
If you are feeling your quads and your knees, stop right now! Most of the time, you should feel your hamstrings and butt during a squat. There are certain squat variations that will activate the quads, but you should not feel your quads on a normal squat.
Use the form tips listed above to avoid feeling your quads: keep your knees apart, push through your heels and focus on the butt checks!
How low can you go?
Some silly person spread the rummer that you need to get your butt down low for squat to count. This simply is not true, and it aggravates me when people think this way!
First, every body is built different. If you have especially long quad muscles and shortened calves, getting lower than 90 degrees is actually much lower than most people squat. The second reason I dislike this way of thinking is because some days you will feel your muscles more during a shallow squat. You should stop the squat where you feel it the most. You don’t want to go too low to the point where you feel your knees. At the same time, you need to go low enough to feel the muscles at all. Ignore everyone and squat to the point where you feel it the most.
Always practicing the same squat
Doing back squats over and over will build strength in that one range of motion. But you will see vast improvement in your overall strength and body shape if you do different squat variations. If you want to learn some new squat exercises, check out one of my home workout plans!