As the owner of a beach boot camp, I see a lot of squats daily! And I see a lot of bad squats daily. Last week I watched a 5, maybe 6 year old sit in a perfect squat position for about 5 minutes and it was effortless.
But for the majority of adults, the squat is an extremely hard position to execute correctly. After years of bad posture, bad flexibility and weak, unstable joints and muscles, we quickly lose the ability to squat like we did as children!
Form and range of movement are paramount behind getting that perfect derrière.
There are 3 main areas that limit us from being able to squat correctly and allow us to get our bums parallel to the ground.
1. Hip Mobility
2. Hamstring Flexibility
3. Ankle Mobility
I am going to take you through each problem area informing you how to improve your squat!
STOP READING… put this article down and perform a squat! Could it be better?! Well, if you follow this guide ¨I PROMISE YOU¨ your squat after stretching our 3 problem areas will be deeper immediately.
At the bottom of a squat there is a large amount of hip flexion so it is essential your hip joint mobility is good. Without it, you may not be able to squat parallel and come as low to the ground as you want. With a deeper squat and larger range of movement we can gain much better results and target the correct muscle whilst doing so.
In addition, poor hip flexion can create an anterior pelvic tilt, which can lead to a forward tilt as you go down into the squat.
Tip: Stretch to extend your ability of hip flexion
We can stretch out the hip flexors by using a simple stretch in which our front leg is bent, knee in line with the ankle joint and your other leg stretched out as far back as possible. Ensure your hips are in line with your shoulders, as it is common for the back leg to allow the hip to rotate laterally (outwards) decreasing the stretch put on the hip flexors.
Slightly bounce and drive forward (ballistic stretching) for 30-45 seconds x 2 on both sides.
This is a controversial one in the field but hamstrings connect to two joints, hips and knees, both of which are involved in our movement and they directly control hip flexion.
As someone with short hamstrings, I really feel a pull as they lengthen during a squat, stopping me from being able to control my hip flexion and get deeper. The result, tilting forward, putting pressure onto my back and over working my quads. We want to keep the weight on our heels.
Tip: Stretch to lengthen your hamstrings
Start with one leg straight out in front of you, your other leg bent, (with your foot resting into the knee of the leg that is straight). Keep your back straight, shoulders back and head forwards. Pivot at the hips and lean forward. Both sides x 2 for 30-45 seconds.
You can perform these exercises before, during and after you squat. If it is before, we normally want to make sure our muscles are warm when using a static stretch. Therefore, you may want to use a walking lunge to stretch before squatting (20 either side).
Maybe the least known restriction but most common amongst clients struggling to perform a good deep squat. Poor ankle mobility can create an inability for your shin (tibia) to move forward. We cannot gain the same range of movement and tend to compensate with a bending forward of the back to get lower.
Often poor ankle mobility is from flexibility problems from the calf. Therefore, it is advisable to foam roll your calves before squatting.
Tip: Stretch your ankle joint to increase range of movement
Have one foot planted and bring your knee over the same foot as far as possible, keeping your heel firmly on the ground. With one hand, holding your heel down, push your knee forward as far as it can go, testing the range of movement you currently have.
Repeat both sides 3-4 times for 30-45 seconds. You can place
your back leg however you feel comfortable.
Before I leave you, I have compiled my favourite 5 bum exercises to give you an all-round peachy behind!
1 minute on each
15 seconds rest between exercises
Happy Squatting People and Congratulations on your soon to be perfect booty!