May the Squat Be With You

I find it so interesting how in tune we are as humans with the change of the seasons. How we naturally turn towards warming, comforting foods during the colder months, and in the warmer months, we naturally create the desire for a lighter, more refreshing diet. 

For me this shift goes further than just dietary preference, but also into training style and regime. Summer has me wanting sweaty, outdoor, high intensity style workouts, while winter brings the desire for heavier, slower, more strength-focused training. As we make our way into October, I am certain that I, along with the community of people I train with, will be spending more time working on the body weight squat as well as different weight progressions. This realization has led me to this month’s topic: How to perform a proper bodyweight squat.

First and foremost, I need to put a strong emphasis on the fact that the squat is a movement first and an exercise second. Performing a proper bodyweight squat before using a barbell or another form of weight is imperative to injury prevention and long-term success. 

Much like a house, we need a secure solid foundation before filling it with fancy furniture. Aaron Horschig, author of The Squat Bible says it perfectly when he states, “instead of adapting to our limitations or just ignoring them all together, it’s time to fix our movement issues. It’s time to shift our training efforts that have been focused on remodelling our physical house without ever fixing the large crack in our home’s foundation.”

So how do we perform a proper bodyweight squat? Here are a few absolutes that must be followed. 

Squat Foundation 
The feet should be roughly hip distance apart (this foot position works for a majority of people, so I use this as a starting point), the toes are pointing relatively straight forward. A very slight turn out of the toes is not a bad thing like some may think. 

*If the body is not able to go to full depth with this set up, there may be some mobility issues worth acknowledging. 

The Tripod Foot 
I refer to this often when teaching a person who is new to the squat. Maintaining the arch of our foot and our weight being evenly distributed will allow for the most power and stability. The three points in the tripod are the heel, the base of the big toe and the base of the pinky toe and is a solid base of support for the body.

External Rotation Torque 
Simply put, this means creating tightness in our hips so that our knees track in proper alignment. Cues such as screwing the feet into the floor or squeeze your glutes will engage the outside muscles of the hips that are required while the arch in the foot is created and knees are in alignment with the toes. 

The Hip Hinge 
Thinking of driving the hips back instead of straight down will ensure our posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) is properly engaged. Once we’ve established a solid foot position, sending the hips back as we lower into our squat will allow us to drive back up using the external rotation and hip force we have created.

In my opinion, once we can confidently perform bodyweight squats, we have the option to progress into a squat using barbells or other forms of weight. The foot position for these squats may be slightly different, but overall, all variations of a squat require the same set up. 

Acknowledging weaknesses or mobility issues and taking the right steps to eliminate these will help keep us able bodied to perform movements like this and will keep us strong and healthy to enjoy the Fernie lifestyle! On that note, if you are new to the squat, start now. 

If you’re experienced in the squat, keep going. Either way, happy squatting friends!