Improving the Back Squat: Common Faults, and Tips for Improvement
The squat is one of the most basic and important movements that we do at Balcones Fitness, but also one of the most important movements in everyday life. Believe it or not, we perform some variation of a squat completing everyday tasks outside of the gym! Though it is one of the most basic movements, it is often one of the most difficult to complete with proper form. Being able to complete an efficient air squat will transfer into back squats (squatting with load placed on back) and many of the other movements that we do regularly at Balcones Fitness. Squatting with proper technique will allow you to move more weight, and complete multiple reps safely. The quality of the movement is always key!
Here are a few common faults we see with our athletes that have trouble squatting properly and some tips and exercises to correct those faults.
Fault- Not Hitting Proper Depth
Cause: Proper squat depth is achieved when the front surface of the thigh goes below the knee joint. Some causes of shallow squats can be lack of depth awareness, or inability to get out of the bottom position of the squat.
Fix: To ensure appropriate depth, squat to a box. The height of the box used for box squats should be gradually reduced to ensure proficiency. Also, if keeping the chest up is limiting depth, this can be addressed by completing wall facing squats.
Fault: Crashing (Inward) Knees aka Valgus Collapse
Cause: tight adductors / weak abductors
Fix- Resistance Band Around Knees: Place a mini resistance band around the thighs. This will pull the knees in towards each other during the squat cueing the athlete to push the knees out. Using the mini resistance band forces the glutes and abductors to fire in the correct manner, and simultaneously strengthens these same muscles.
Fault: Leaning Forward When Squatting
Cause: Weak Posterior Chain or Weak Glutes
Fix: Strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and hips will improve this fault. Completing additional accessory exercises before or after each workout will strengthen these muscles.
Glute Bridge – 10 reps (both legs)
Single Leg Glute Bridge – 10 reps each leg
Fire Hydrants – 10 reps per leg
Seated hip band abduction- 10 reps
Lastly, the most important that to remember is practice makes perfect. Yes, as children we are all able to spot with almost perfect form, but the aging process and the stressors of daily life change that ability. With consistent and frequent practice of correct form, and the addition of mobility/strengthening exercises, perfect squat form can become a deeply ingrained skill.