While you may hear that “any exercise is good exercise”, it simply isn’t true when it comes to bad technique. Exercising incorrectly not only takes away from what you’re trying to achieve but can do you damage – especially when it comes to lifting weights. Learning proper form will not only get you the best results but also make it possible for you to exercise anywhere, anytime. With proper form in your pocket, the world is your gym.
So let’s start with the basics.
When it comes to squatting there is no grey area - there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Done correctly, this exercise works all the major muscles and is a great staple to any workout.
Although the squat is obviously an exercise to work your lower body, it all starts in your core. A lack of activation in the abs is the main cause of injury, so brace yourself. Switch on your abdominal muscles and squeeze the muscles between your shoulder blades to support your upper back. When your back is supported your glutes are forced to do the work.
Your squat checklist:
- Feet are shoulder-width apart and turned out slightly
- Your shoulder blades are squeezed, lifting your chest
- Your abs are braced to support your spine
- Lower yourself as if you were sitting back on a chair
- Your hips move down and back until your knees reach right angles
- Keep your weight in your heels, not toes, throughout the movement
- Don't let your knees track inside your toes as you lower yourself – keep them pushing out.
The key focus here is maintaining a neutral back. Having a rounded spine when doing this exercise will put a lot of pressure on your back without actually working many muscles. Maintaining a neutral spine (keeping a slight inward curve in the lower back) throughout the exercise is the only way to get the full benefits of this move.
- Start with your knees bent slightly – this helps engage the glutes
- Tip forward from the hips, keeping your chest high and abs braced
- Squeeze between your shoulder blades to support your upper back
- Stop when the bar reaches knee level
- Pull the bar towards your waist, just below the belly button.
The majority of shoulder injuries seen in gyms comes from this exercise. The main reason – dropping too low with too much weight. When doing this exercise stop when the elbows reach the level of the bench or shoulder level.
- Start with a neutral spine - a natural arch in your lower back – do not let it over arch by bracing your abs
- Keep your neck straight and relaxed with your head supported
- Bring the bar down toward the middle of the chest until the elbows reach bench level.
LES MILLS On Demand is where you will be able to find video guides demonstrating good form for more gym exercises.
LES MILLS On Demand is available for a free 10 day trial. With a library of over 100 workouts from 11 different programs, you are sure to be able to find a style of workout that you will love.
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