A personal trainer shares his do's and don'ts to master the move.
For some reason, I cannot perform a squat correctly. Luckily, I have a personal trainer, who can work with me each week and is helping me progress in both form and repetitions.
Because I can’t be the only one, I asked personal trainer Kyle Golden, owner of Work It Training in Austin, Texas, to not only share the right—and wrong—way to do a squat, but also ways to add a level of difficulty once you have mastered the move.
The Right Way To Perform A Body-Weight Squat:
Stand tall with your feet placed just slightly wider than hip width. Have your feet pointed outward about an inch from center. During the entire squat you will want to make sure your weight is shifted back and toward your heels. Your heels and balls of feet should be in contact with the floor at all times during the squat; never on your toes.
Look forward, keep your chest and back in a neutral position. Tighten your core and slowly squat, shifting your body weight back and toward your heels. You will want to squat as deep as you can, keeping your butt back and making sure your knees do not extend forward past your toes.
During the squat your knees will slight move toward the outside of your body. Ideally you will want to squat deep enough that your butt goes below your knees. Remember, your body weight should be in your heels and feet, not your toes. Then slowly return to standing upright.
Kyle’s 5 Tips To Perfecting Your Form:
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t get the perfect squat form down immediately. As with anything else in life, performing a good squat takes practice.
Beginners may want to use a full-length mirror to monitor their squat form. Stand perpendicular to the mirror and watch to make sure your butt drops below your knees while keeping the knees behind your toes. Again, this will take some practice.
Many fitness shoes have large soles for support during impact exercise and can shift your body forward. Try squatting with your shoes off to help keep your heels in contact with the ground and your body weight shifted back.
If you are having problems keeping your knees behind your toes or feel like you are going to fall backward, squat about 18 inches from a wall or slip-proof chair. Once your butt comes in contact with the wall or chair return to standing. Move further from the wall or lower the chair (or use a stool) as you progress.
Squat with a buddy! It can be hard, even with a mirror, to get the right squat form down. Spot and assist each other to make sure you are performing the squat right. It can be more fun to workout with a buddy as well.
Kyle’s Guide To The Most Common Squat Problems:
Do not shift your body weight toward your toes, keep your butt back and your weight in your heels and feet. At the bottom of the squat you should be able to slightly lift your toes off the ground.
Do not slouch or hunch your back. Keep your core tight and look forward at all times during the squat.
Do not bend over at the waist. It is common for beginners to want to bend forward and squat very shallow. Remember you want to be sitting back into the squat, keep your chest facing forward and back neutral.
Do not progress too fast. Make sure your form is great with your own body weight before adding weight or trying squat variations.
When you are ready to progress, here’s how to do it:
Once you are comfortable with the body-weight squat form you can add weight to the squat or vary it up. Try adding light dumbbells held at your side to start. You can progress to heavier weights and hold them at shoulder height as you get more comfortable with the exercise.
You can also try adding different variations of barbell squats using a squat rack or cage. Once you get really good you can try single leg, or pistol squats. However, you want to make sure you have the foundation principles of the body weight squat mastered before trying the more advanced adaptations.