If there’s one exercise that is universally accepted as the magical workout that actually works wonders, it has to be the squat. From fitness trainers to supermodels, everyone believes in the squat. Not only does it give you that much-desired bubble butt that looks oh-so-stunning in your favourite pair of jeans or that gorgeous bodycon dress, squats are great for strengthening your core and engaging all of your lower body muscles, including your hips, thighs, quadriceps, and glutes.
However, like all workouts, there is a right and a wrong way to perform squat workouts, and if not done properly, they can be really ineffective, or worse, leave you with a severe injury. To ensure your daily squats are up to the make, here are some common squat mistakes you could make and how to fix them ASAP!
This could probably be because your feet are set too close together on the ground as you squat. This way, you are applying more pressure on your quadriceps instead of your hamstring or glutes and can have a negative impact on your form.
For the optimum form, ensure that your feet are at least shoulder-width apart because any closer than that, you’ll be doing it wrong. If your heels still rise as you squat, the reason could be either weak gluteal muscles or tight calves, which you can work on with frequent lunges, hip thrusts that will tone your glutes.
Pro tip: Curl your toes as you squat, which can help you plant your heels firmly on the floor, preventing them from rising.
This can occur more frequently with deep squats. Like mentioned above, working on your stance – feet placed shoulder-width apart – normally helps in keeping your balance intact.
It is also important for you to keep your head upright and your eyes looking straight ahead. Looking up at the ceiling or down to your toes or the ground while squatting can be one of the causes for you to lose your balance as well.
One of the most common mistakes while squatting is leaning forward while descending for the squat. This can strain your lower back as you rise up again. If your form isn’t corrected, over time, this can cause real damage to your back as you grow older.
The best way to avoid leaning too much is to keep your back as straight as possible, at all times. Even as you rise, make sure your chest rises first, keeping in mind that your hips don’t rise quicker than your chest. Focus on pushing your knees outwards, and balance your weight in the middle of your feet so that you don’t tip forwards or fall backwards. Practice makes perfect!
Misalignment of your thighs when doing squat workouts can cause a severe knee injury and you wouldn’t even know until it was too late! When you squat, it’s essential to have your thighs in line with your feet, or else your knees will try and twist or cave inwards to naturally keep you from losing your balance.
Pro tip: Pay attention to the kind of shoes you wear. Running shoes with heels that compress are a bad choice for when you do squats as you can lose stability. Try cross training shoes with non-compressible soles that give you more support.
The crucial criteria for any beginner before attempting squats is to get your form corrected. If this is your first time incorporating squats in your workout, focus on doing them right before you head to picking up weights and experimenting. Your lower body needs to be accustomed to squatting free-hand first before your upper body can take on the load.
When you perform squat workouts, a deep squat is advisable at all times, but you still need to pay attention to how low you go, because there are terms and conditions that your body wants you to listen to before you injure yourself by doing them wrong.
To make sure you’re not descending too much, look at how aligned your thighs are to your toes, how far apart your knees are, how evenly placed your feet are on the ground, how straight your back is – and descend up to the level where they are all still stock straight and don’t weaken or give in. Keep that squat pose!
Yes, speed can also be the cause of carelessness and later, a terrible spinal disc injury! Take your time with the squats, and engage your core while you do so. The objective of the squat is to get your muscles used to the workout, and hurrying them along is not going to give you any benefits whatsoever. Plus, there is a high chance you can mess up your stance if you perform them speedily, and all it takes is one twist of the knee or the strain of the back to keep you from squatting ever again!
Images: Shutterstock, Giphy