So my friend Shelley and I are out having a coffee. The conversation turns to fitness and working out and before too long Shelley is confiding in me that she could use to lose about 10lbs.
“What should I do?” she asks.
Simple, train your whole body with a particular emphasis on your legs and hips and eat nutritious and delicious food. Why? Leg training transforms bodies.
“Leg training,” she says, “Ugh, I hate squatting. The last time I did it I hurt my knees.”
Oh boy, here we go. I ask Shelley to humour me and just do a simple squat in front of me. Yes, here in the coffee shop. She does and it’s exactly what I thought. She has the same challenge many people have, tight hips and weak glutes. She stays way too upright when she squats.
This is what caused here knee injury. If your glutes don’t get engaged in the movement you knees can end up taking on way too much stress. In fact, when you do it like this the movement itself feels uncomfortable. No wonder she didn’t like leg training.
When you squat correctly it feels more natural. It doesn’t take long to get good at it and believe it or not, actually begin to enjoy it.
There are many ways that people mess up the squat but the most dramatic way is that they just do it too upright. Yes you need a straight back but you can bend right over and still have a straight back.
A straight back does not mean an upright back. It means that the from the crown of your head to the tip of you butt is as straight as a razor whether upright or bent over.
Since many people have very tight hips, trying to squat with a straight back and keeping upright is a surefire recipe for disaster. You see when you hips are tight and you stay upright, you end up taking your hips (glutes, butt, etc.) out of the movement. Your knees and lower back do all the work and you don’t get the results you want.
Worse still, you may get injured.
So how do you cure this problem while you’re in the process of getting your hips more flexible? Simple, just bend over when you squat and stick you butt waaaaay back as if you are trying to sit down on a chair that is just out of reach. As you do this your weight should be on your heels.
If it’s on your toes or the balls of your feet than you aren’t bending over and reaching back far enough!
Why do this? It engages your hips and still allows you to keep a straight back. Keep in mind that this movement is much easier to do if you take a stance a little wider than your shoulder width.
Whether you squat with weight or just body weight the same principle applies.
Now just to be sure, I want to be really impress this point upon you. I don’t mean “kind of” reach back with your butt, or “sort of” bend over. I mean reach back with your butt as far as you can as if you life depended on it and really, really bend over. Make that practice of reaching so far back each and every time you squat so automatic it becomes habit.
This is how children squat. Just watch a little 2 year-old squat down. They do it perfectly without ever thinking about it. This is naturally how it should be done.
Somewhere along the way you may have just forgotten how to do it. Practice reaching back and before you know it you’ll be amazing a squatting and trust me…it will show.
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