Squatting is one of the best compound movements for our lower body. It is one of hardest exercises to perform as well. This is because the squat can cause spinal cord injury if you fail to keep your core tight the entire time.
If you are new to this movement, do not rush to put 225 lbs weight on the barbell and start to squat. Instead, you have to make sure that you know how to do it properly first and once you’re ready, you can put some weights on the bar. Anyway, if you don’t know where to start, here is the ultimate step-by-step on how to squat in a proper way.
What You Need To Perform The Squat
1. A Power Rack
It is very important to squat in a power rack for maximum safety. With this device, you don’t have to worry about the bar falling off your back because there are safety pins which are ready to catch it. Some may think about squatting in a smith machine but to be honest, it is not a good idea because researches have shown that machines are not as effective for gaining muscle and strength as free weights. Anyway, the fixed bar of a smith machine is not always comfortable and could injure you as different lifters have different body structures, right?
Besides, you can also squat in a squat rack but it’s not as sturdy as a power rack. Therefore, if you are not lifting heavy or you’re a serious lifter, then a squat rack is totally fine.
Must Read: How to Avoid Injury When Working Out
2. A Weight-Lifting Belt
When it comes to a heavy compound lift as squats or deadlifts, it’s a must to wear a weight lifting belt. This item can help you keep your core tight the entire time, therefore, protecting your upper back from rounding and avoiding exaggerated arch in your lower back.
How To Do It
Let’s get this straight. There are different ways to squat such as front squat, sumo squat or low-bar squat. However, today, I want to introduce you guys to the high-bar back squat which is also the most common squat variation. So, let’s get started:
First, set the horizontal safety pins so that they are ready to catch the barbell in case you fail. Put the bar on the rack and face it. Grab the bar using a medium grip and put it high on top of your traps. For women, this may cause neck pain so my suggestion is that you should go for a bar pad or just to the low-bar back squat but this is not we’re talking about in this article.
2. Unrack The Bar
Now, move your feet right under the bar. Keep your nice and tight with your back straight and your chest up. Straighten your legs to lift the bar off the rack. Step back slowly until you get into position. Stand with your heels under shoulder and with shoulder-width apart. Turn your feet out of 30-degree while keeping them flat on the floor. Remember to make sure that you are not too far from the rack, or else the safety pins can’t catch the bar when you fail on the last rep.
3. Lower Your Body
Take a deep breath, hold it and then slowly lower your body. Keep in mind that you always have to keep the bar over the center of your foot the entire time. Additionally, your back must be straight and never let it overarch or round if you don’t want to have injuries.
Remember to squat as deep as you can. This may be controversial because we don’t have the same body structure and ankle or hip mobility, right? That’s why I don’t want to say that you have to squat using a full range of motion. Instead, just make sure you keep lowering your body until you can’t keep your back straight anymore or you are about to have butt wink.
Tip: In order to avoid butt wink or avoid overarching your back, do not kick your butt back, instead, push your knees forward. This way, you can keep your back straight and therefore, protect your spine.
4. Lift The Bar Up
When you reach the proper squat depth, push through your heels to lift the bar up fast. Once again, while you’re engaging your quads and hamstrings, do not lose the tightness in your core even when you wear a lifting belt. Besides, do not let your knees cave in when trying to lift the bar because it doesn’t target the inner side of your thighs.
I’ve seen so many guys in the gym lower the bar correctly but when they lift it up, they raise their butt first and that cause overarching in your lower back, which is very dangerous for the spine. Therefore, just make sure you use the quads and hamstrings to lift the bar or simply push through your heels. And at the top of the movement, lock your hips and knees. That’s how you perform a perfect high-bar squat rep. Breathe out and get ready for the next one.
Repeat this exercise for the intended amount of reps. In my experience, it’s important to squat at least 5 reps because if you squat less than 5 reps, then I’m afraid that it’s not enough for you to feel the necessary muscle tension and burn in your quads and glutes. If you’re a person who has general fitness purposes, then the most effective rep range should be 8-12 reps.
5. Rack The Bar
When you’re finished, do not try to lift the bar straight up into the uprights. That is very risky and dangerous for your body because you could miss the rack. Just hold the bar with your hips locked then slowly step forward until you’re close enough to the vertical parts of the rack. Now, slowly bend your legs to let the barbell gently touch the rack and done!
Here are basic steps of squat for you. Importantly, you should start from light weight and move slowly to higher and higher weight when you truly master your techniques. Besides, using knee sleeves or knee wraps will help you to perform more comfortable. Hope you guys enjoy my article and reach your goals as soon as possible!