As a trainer, one of my main priorities is helping my clients move, live and feel better through coaching. As many of you have seen through experience and those terribly hilarious videos, lifting with improper technique can lead to unnecessary injuries. One of the exercises I see butchered the most is the squat, and this is often due to either lack of coaching or too much weight. NOBODY who trains with me performs Barbell Back Squats until I feel comfortable with their squat form. Everyone squats, but with a gradual and logical progression. All you have to do is watch the majority of lifters and see how terribly and dangerously the squat is performed. Most of my clients follow this progression when squatting:
Air Squat: One of the things I like to see is how a new client squats with their own body weight. I look for spinal alignment, posture and knee positioning. Once the client is able to perform repetitions with great form, then we move to the next step.
Goblet Squat: This is when weight is added, either with a dumbbell or kettlebell. The great thing about this variation is that it adds load to the movement and helps continue to build leg strength. By holding the weight in front of you, the arms shoulders and upper back are working harder to keep your torso upright during the movement.
Barbell Back Squat: Once the Goblet Squat is looking great (and the client can handle 45 pounds with good form), we progress to barbell squatting. Of course, at this point the risk increases so the coaching becomes even more critical.
Conclusion: When it comes to squatting, don’t jump right into barbell back squats. Take the time to learn the movement with your body weight and gradually progress. I’ve seen far too many lifters go straight to barbell back squats without the flexibility, mobility and strength to handle it and get injured unnecessarily. My number one priority at all times is safety.
To your lifelong health and success,