My name’s Geoffrey Yee, I’ve been an RMT for the last 4 years, an Olympic style weightlifter since 2007, a powerlifter between 2006-2008 and I played minor football and hockey before that. I started going to the gym in 2003, since then I’ve seen so many different types of squats (good and bad). Some of them were full squat depth with loads of weight, and some squats didn’t make it to parallel with lighter weights. Here are a some common mistakes that may help you improve your squat!
Error #1 Depth
Not getting to depth can be caused by a number of factors, some of which could be outside of your control.
If your hip socket is too shallow, then you will not be able to get into as deep of a squat as the bone of your femur will make contact with the bone of your hip socket and not allow full depth. There could also be the issue of the angle of the femur is slightly off it could affect your ability to get into a deep squat.
If this error is not due to anatomical make up then it could be easily adjusted by turning your toes out in your foot position and allowing the knees to move past the toes giving you enough space for full depth.
Ankle flexibility could also be a factor that is limiting the depth of your squat. Although many people think knee and hip mobility are the main focuses when trying to deepen your squats, ankle mobility should not be overlooked. If your ankles do not have enough range of motion the knees will have a hard time moving past your toes in the bottom of your squat.
Error #2 Foot Placement
There is common misconception about the difference between a squat and a sumo squat. Many people feel that the way to get more depth in their squat is to place their feet further apart.
Although the easy fix is to have the person move their feet closer together the real question is how far apart should your feet be in your squat. And the answer to this is not straight forward, but we will go over some basic placement cues to try out.
- Place your heels slightly outside of the outside of your hips
- Turn the toes out between a 30 and 45 degree angle
If when you start to squat your upper body tips forward then try sliding your heels a little bit closer together and adjust from there.
Error #3 Knees
In the bottom of your squat your knees SHOULD go past your middle toes. A number of years ago people were being taught that it was bad to have their knees pass their ankle and were told to squat as you would in a smith machine with vertical shins.
The understanding of anatomy now shows us that the hip joint itself does not function linearly. To properly allow the femur to move through the range of motion in the hip socket there needs to be forward and lateral movement of the femurs. If the toes are pointing forward when the femurs move forward and lateral it could put additional pressure on the LCL (lateral ligament in the knee). The knee is essentially a one-track joint, so it is meant to bend and straighten. To allow the knee and hip joints to function as they should it comes down to foot placement. Using the tips above to find your ideal foot placement will allow your knees to stay in a stable and strong position and keep you squatting for years to come without knee pain.
Error #4 Hips
The biggest error in regards to the hips in the squat is seen on the recovery (standing back up from your bottom positon). What tends to happen is the hips lift first getting the back into a close to or parallel position in relation to the ground. Generally, when the hips rise first it is due to over compensation of the quads and lower back muscles (specifically erector spinae). However, this could also be caused by weak lats or weak erector spinae that are not allowing you to hold an upright torso position. Front squats (a variation of squat) will allow the upper body to stay in a more vertical position, strengthen erector spinae, strengthen lats and allow the glutes to fire taking some of the engagement away from the quads. There would also be benefit in potentially releasing your lats as they could have issues firing if they are holding too much tension.
Rebound Sport and Spine