One of the best exercises you can do, not just for your lower body but for your total body is definitely the Squat.
Arguably the King of the lower body exercises, there are however some key considerations to ensure it is done right.
A simple test to see whether you should in fact even be squatting is to do a simple squat without a bar or with a broomstick overhead.
If you fold in half and struggle to keep you heels on the ground with your body upright, you may want to reconsider even doing squats until your mobility has improved.
The three key areas where you will need adequate flexibility are your ankles (calves/achilles), hips (hip flexors and adductors) and your shoulders (lats, triceps, delts, traps and chest) to ensure you can hold the bar in the right position.
2. Bar Position
Whether you Squat low bar or high bar, you need to figure out the exact position that is right for you and your levers. Ensure you are happy and the bar does not move once in place.
I prefer to Squat higher bar with the bar sitting on top of my shoulder blades, not on my neck. Remember, strength is a gift handed to you from your nervous system. If that bar doesn’t sit right, your nervous system will simply shut you down.
A good Squat requires a LOT of upper body tension and this all starts with your grip. I like to place close attention to the exact positioning of my grip as this will in turn ensure the bar sits evenly on my back. Grip the bar as tight as you can, pull the bar apart and crank your elbows under which will help engage the lats.
Lock in your lats to help with that tension and ensure you don’t have the bar cave in on you. Your lats will help keep your spine in the correct alignment and allow you to transfer your power from your legs to the bar.
As mentioned before, I personally like to screw my elbows down in line with my torso while pulling out on the bar while I grip it.
Once you have unracked the bar you need to ensure your feet are in the right spot and gripped and screwed to the ground.
This motion fires the glutes and strong lateralis muscles of the quads and will provide a firm base for you to drive up from.
Tempo can vary depending on what you are wanting to achieve but a simple rule to consider is you can only go as fast as you can control it. Often the heavier the bar, the slower the eccentric or speed at which you lower the weight. More often than not however I like to lift the bar as fast as possible applying CAT or compensatory Acceleration Training.
Once you learn how to squat, the best way to build you squat is to do so several times a week with variations to each session. Vary rarely do I go very heavy. Rather I prefer to get strong through volume of work.
One of the great things about Shredded is how many options you have, from chains and bands, to specialty bars and even machines such as the Pendulum Squat that allows for a great range of motion that what most people can achieve in a normal squat.
I hope these tips help and you enjoy strong powerful, deep squatting from now on and if you are in the area and not already a member pop in and check out some of the equipment that always makes leg day at Shredded an enjoyable one.
Remember, you should never skip leg day!!