The summer months are a great time to revisit your Squat technique, says Gabe Harrington, head strength and conditioning coach at Colgate University.
You may have performed Squats all season long, but there’s a good chance you were not using correct technique. Or, you may never have learned how to properly perform the Squat. Or perhaps you developed strength imbalances, which reduced your performance. After a tough season of constant wear and tear on their bodies, athletes tend to slip back into bad habits with their form.
Below, Harrington lays out the eight-step progression he teaches his athletes for proper Squat technique. Learn the first four steps here, then check back next week for the final four—that is, after you master the following progressions.
Step 1: Stance Basics
- Begin with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and toes pointed out
- Imagine spreading floor with feet by applying force into ground and out while descending into Squat
- Lift big toes slightly and push through heels to explode up
Coaching Points: On spreading the floor: “If you were on ice, you would do the splits,” Harrington says of this lower-body action. “This helps keep your knees from buckling in during the movement.”
An athlete performs Wall Squat With Box.
Step 2: Breathing
- Inhale while descending and hold breath at bottom of Squat
- Exhale as you explode up from Squat
Coaching Points: Breathe into your stomach, not your chest. Harrington: “This helps promote internal stability around the spine.”
Step 3: Wall Squat With Box
- From seated position on box, press toes against wall and assume Squat stance
- Inhale, spread floor with feet, lift big toes slightly and explode up
- Sit back onto box, lowering with control
- Repeat for specified reps
Coaching Points: “Once you can repeat this two to three times in a row without plopping down, you are ready to move onto the next progression,” says Harrington.
Step 4: Wall Squat With Partner
An athlete performs Wall Squat With Partner.
- With partner behind you, stand with toes against wall and arms extended at sides
- Inhale, spread floor with feet and lift big toes slightly
- Push hips back to descend into Squat
- Flex hips near bottom of movement, with partner spotting you from behind to prevent you from falling backwards
Coaching Points: “Your partner’s job is to push you forward enough so that you can pull yourself down so the tops of your thighs are parallel to the ground,” Harrington says.