Next time you're in the gym, look around. Most people seem to be uncomfortable while squatting. Maybe you're one of them.
Improving squat form can be an exercise in frustration, but neglecting it will hurt your strength and weight-loss progress because you won't be able to reach your lifting potential.
With some patience and these exercises, in a few weeks your Squat will feel natural, and you will be able to stack on the weights.
Front Foot Elevated Split Squats (3 sets of 10 each leg)
This is an excellent unilateral squatting pattern for someone who has already mastered the Split Squat. The movement helps with hip mobility and, when the box is slightly elevated, gives you some added hamstring work. A few weeks of these and you will improve your squat form.
Use a 6- to 12-inch plyometric box for elevation. Grab two dumbbells and hold them at your sides. In a split-squat position, place your foot on the box—making sure to lower yourself—and explode up from your heel. Keep your torso upright and both feet always facing forward.
TRX Assisted Pistol Squats (3 sets of 10 each leg)
Pistol Squats have increased in popularity via CrossFit, and rightfully so. They are the pinnacle of unilateral squatting strength, mobility and balance. If you're just starting out with Pistol Squats, it's best to use a TRX strap when performing this movement.
Grab a TRX strap and hold it by the handles a few feet away from where it hangs. Make sure there is tension on the TRX strap. Place one foot in the forward-facing position and sit back into a Pistol Squat. Stay as upright as possible and make sure your knee tracks directly over your lead foot. As you increase your ability with the TRX strap, start using less upper-body assistance until you feel comfortable without the strap.
Single-Leg Barbell Bench Hip Lift (3 sets of 10 each leg)
If you sit in a chair all day, part of your inability to Squat may be that you're not using your glutes. (A lack of glute activation places unwanted stress on the lower back.) Keeping with the theme of unilateral movements, Single-Leg Bench Hip Lifts are extremely effective in opening up the hip capsule. Perform a set of 10 reps on each side and you will see a noticeable difference.
Rest your upper back on the bench and sit as close as you can to the base. Place all the weight on your upper back, merely resting your shoulders and elbows on the bench. Dig one heel into the ground and extend the other leg. Place a barbell across your hip crease, using a towel to pad where it contacts your body. Drive through your heel, direct your hips to the ceiling, and squeeze your glute for a few seconds at the top of the movement.
Performing Single-Leg Hip Lifts before a set of heavy Squats will help improve squat form tremendously.
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