Proper Squat Technique: How to Perform the Perfect Bodyweight Squat

It’s fair to say that when it comes to the fundamental exercises of strength training, the squat seems to be the most difficult to get right consistently. Because squats use almost every major muscle group in the body, the temptation to fall into bad technique is a strong one. 

But what is the advantage of the squat, and how do you do it properly? Read on to find out.

What is a squat and why should I do them?

Squats are one of the cornerstones of the modern fitness regime, perfect for muscle building or weight loss. Although initially thought by many to be a leg exercise, it’s now widely accepted that squats utilise almost every muscle group on the body.

They’re what’s known as a compound movement, meaning that it’s a movement which requires more than one joint to complete. During the process of a squat, you’ll be engaging your shoulders, arms, back, core and hips as you complete the movement.

Quite simply, it’s a fantastic exercise, but getting the movement right is crucial to not only reaping the benefits, but also ensuring your own safety (especially if you move on to weighted squats). That’s why you need to know the perfect technique.

Performing the perfect bodyweight squat.

The set-up for the bodyweight squat really couldn’t be much simpler.

You begin with your feet slightly wider than your hips, with your toes pointed slightly outwards (between 5 and 20 degrees, so quite shallow). You’ll also want to ensure that your back is straight, but not over-arched and hold your arms outstretched, parallel to the ground.

With that in place, you can follow these steps to get your bodyweight squat right:

  1. Place your weight on the heels and balls of your feet, as though they were glued flat to the ground. You should be able to wiggle your toes freely.
  2. Breathe in, bend at your hip and push your bottom back. Keep sending your hips backwards as your knees begin to bend.
  3. Keep your back straight, resist the urge to round your shoulders. Keep looking straight ahead.
  4. As you continue your squat, keep your knees in line with your feet. Lots of improper squat form comes from people pushing their knees out as they squat, so this is of vital importance.
  5. Continue downwards until your hip joint is in line with your knees.
  6. Keeping your body tight, breath out and begin your push up, driving your force through your heels, keeping the balls of your feet on the ground as well.

And with that, you’ve done it! Your first bodyweight squat. These can be altered with barbells and other weights, which alter the technique somewhat. You’ll also find a great many YouTube videos available to visually teach you how to squat correctly. Good luck!

If you think you have the perfect squat and would like a career imparting this knowledge on others, why not sign up to become a personal trainer. Lifetime Training has a wide range of fitness courses to suit a variety of levels. 

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