Squatting The 'King' of All Exercises
Squatting is the single most effective exercise that you can do to lose fat and tone/strengthen muscle. All it requires you to do is place a weight across your shoulders in a standing position, then proceed to bend your hips and knees and then stand back up again. The beauty of squatting lies with it’s relative simplicity and it’s ability to produce results and as such is a staple diet of world class athletes from almost every sporting discipline.
Benefits of squatting (when performed properly):
- The squat is a whole body exercise and works more muscles at a time than any other exercise. It teaches proper core stability by engaging stabilisers of the trunk which will build a strong abdominal region and low back.
- It improves the posture of the upper back by strengthening muscles which are commonly weak due to poor posture, and by strengthening the shoulder stabilisers.
- It strengthens the gluteus muscles and hamstrings, which are typically weak in the vast majority of low back pain patients that we see at the clinic. Weak gluteus muscles lead to overworked lumbar muscles which are a common area involved in general low back ache.
- Learning correct squat technique teaches you how to lift properly by hinging at your hips, i.e lift with your hips/glutes not your lift with your legs. It also teaches you how to sit down and stand up correctly as these are two movements which are very commonly performed poorly by most people.
Common technical errors (with squatting):
- Knees moving inwards/towards each other during descent and/or ascent. This is usually due to weak glutes and is more likely to occur is the feet pronate (roll inwards).
- Knees moving forwards past the big toe. This usually occurs when the person is standing too upright and not hinging properly/sufficiently at the hips. It is a sign of quad dominance usually coupled with weak glutes.
- "Shallow" squatting. There is no rule with regards to how deep one should squat. Deeper squatting (i.e. below parallel) recruits more hamstring and VMO which are both important for stability and muscular balance around the knee joint as well as more glute recruitment as the hips undergo a greater range of motion. People with weaker glutes and/or quad dominance tend to have difficulty squatting deeper as they are unable to hinge through the hips.
- Squatting too deep. The depth of a squat should be limited by the ability to keep the lumbar spine in neutral. During the whole squat the lower back must maintain it’s natural curve, if it begins to curve outwards then neutral posture has been lost. This is commonly caused by poor hip mobility.
Let one of us at NHC help you to develop your technique so that you may enjoy the results.