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  • Writer's pictureNate Johnson

Common Mistakes With the Squat

What are the common faults in the Squat?

Heels Coming Off the Ground:

A very common mistake is the heel coming off the ground. By shifting the pressure off the heel and onto the front of the foot you are shifting more pressure from your hips to your knees. This isn’t a stable, safe, or strong position for the knees to be in. It’s especially bad for people who already have bad knees.

The solution is usually pretty simple. You simply can NOT let your heel come off the ground. You have to keep your feet flat on the ground. In addition to emphasizing the importance of the feet staying on the ground, I want to know why your heeling is coming off the ground in the first place. Typically it’s because you're either 1) going lower than you have the mobility for or 2) you aren’t shoving their butt back enough. Figure out which of the 2 is going on and fix it! If #1, just stop going so low until your mobility improves and if #2, shove your butt back more on the way down!

Knees Caving In:

Another common mistake with the squat is peoples’ knees caving inward towards each other as they stand back up from the bottom of the squat. Most of the time this can be solved by thinking about the cue “shove your knees out on the way down.”

Occasionally this doesn't solve the problem which leads us to the second option.

The second cause for knees caving in is a weakness in the hips. This is quickly solved by adding in 2-3 sets of Glute Walks to every workout.

Video: How to do Glute Walks

Not Shoving Your Butt Back on the Way Down:

This is not a common occurrence, but sometimes a client is able to keep their feet flat on the ground while not shoving their butt back much on the way down.

This isn’t technically incorrect but it’s not how we teach the Squat.


3 reasons:

1) Shoving the hips back reduces pressure on the knees and shifts that pressure to the hips. Most peoples’ hips are great but it’s very common to work with someone with knee issues. Shoving the butt back is often the only way people like this can Squat.

2) You are much more stable when you shove your butt back. Shoving your butt back ensures you are rock solid and stable (and strong!) at the bottom of the Squat.

3) By shoving your butt back during the squat, you involve the Glutes and Hamstrings to a much greater degree. This allows you to Squat more weight, make faster progress, and have more even thigh development between the quads and the hamstrings.

Not Fully Locking Out at the Top of the Squat:

A somewhat common occurrence is people will perfectly execute the squat from the starting (top) position to the bottom, then they’ll start off great on the way back up. But they lock their legs out without bringing their hips back to the starting position. They end up with their legs straight/locked out, their butt shoved back slightly, and their torso leaning forward. This isn’t necessarily a dangerous position but it’s just incorrect.

In this case you just need to remember to pop your hips forward as you stand back up from the bottom position of the squat. This ensures you finish in the correct top position where everything is in a straight line.

Video: BAD Squat Form

Not Looking Straight Ahead When Racking the Bar:

If you don’t look straight ahead when putting the Barbell back in the rack after completing your set, there’s a good chance you’ll miss the hooks on one side. I’ve seen it hundreds of times: a client looks to the left (or right) hook when racking the Barbell and they make that one but miss the other one. Fortunately no one has fallen, but this is not a recipe for safety. Look straight and your body will go the way it’s supposed to go.

Note on racking the Barbell:

Walk the bar back in. When the barbell is about to hit the rack, lean forward slightly until the barbell is leaned against the rack. Once you feel the Barbell leaned against the rack, then, and only then is it safe to lower the weight into the hooks.

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