When was the last time you took a close look at your body weight squat? If it has been a while, chances are you may need to improve your squat mechanics. The basic body weight squat is the foundation for all human movement, but many people struggle with it. Some never learned to squat properly and some lack the mobility to perform a deep body weight squat. The key components of the body weight squat are as follows:
- Head in a neutral position
- Torso upright
- Lumbar spine in a strong/stable position
- Feet shoulder width apart
- External rotation at the hip
- Hip crease below your knees
- Knees over, but not beyond toes
- Weight on heels
It is important to develop this movement with proper technique for a variety of reasons:
1. Improved Performance – Performing the squat with proper mechanics will ensure that you are developing your glutes, legs, and core properly. When performed with poor mechanics, you will leak power and limit your ability to progress in your training.
2. Avoid Pain – Much of the pain that people experience is due to excessive tension in soft tissue or muscle imbalances in the body. Common compensations for the inability to squat properly include external rotation of the feet, medial collapse of the knees, and pitching forward at the waist. These compensations will lead to pain in the knees, hips, and back. They also limit the ability to achieve optimal performance.
3. Injury Prevention – Many people will attempt to “power through” bad form to achieve their “numbers” in a specific workout. They will keep moving with bad form to achieve more reps or lift more weight. This will cause pain as indicated above in the short term, and will eventually lead to serious injury.
Remember, firefighter fitness is not about how many reps you can do, or how much weight you can lift during your workout. It is about optimizing performance while remaining pain free and preventing injuries.
The following video links feature excellent coaches providing a variety of tips and drills to improve your squat mechanics:
Kelly Starrett: The 10 Minute Squat
Ido Portal: Ido’s Squat Clinic Routine
Ryan Hurst: Body Weight Squat Technique
Incorporate some of these drills and techniques into your daily training and you will see improvement in your squat mechanics and performance in general.