I love the squat. It’s by far and away one of my favorite exercises, right behind the deadlift. When I take on a new client, running them through a basic movement screen that involves body weight squats is one of the most valuable tools I can use to see what might or might not be going on with their movement quality.
And while movement quality is great and all, we care about getting jacked. There are few exercises better in this world for getting jacked than the squat.
However, bro’s consistently ruin their chance of catching a case of swoliosis by squatting wrong. I’ve spent more than enough time fucking up my own squat, and watching other people fuck up their squat. I’m done with that.
It’s time we fix our squats, build tree trunks for legs, and celebrate by pounding brotein shakes post squat sesh.
Here are 4 common squat problems, and how to fix them.
- Squat with a butt wink:
The butt wink is one of the most common problems in the pantheon of squatting issues. Also, it’s got the best name.
If you watch the video above, you’ll see that as I drop down into the squat my hips tuck up under my body. This is especially prominent on the last couple of reps.
The big issue here is what’s taking place with the lower back. Your spine goes from extension, to flexion, and back to extension. All while dealing with an excessive load on your spine. No bueno.
Fixing this isn’t exactly easy, and for some people they may be more prone to butt winking solely because of their hip structure.
Some of the most common fixes are stretching your hamstrings out, and practicing goblet squat with a slow eccentric portion of the squat, paying attention to when the butt wink occurs, and stopping there. This way you’ll groove yourself to hitting depth, without going through that extension, flexion, extension cycle.
- Squat morning, or squat with hips shooting up:
The squat morning is especially prominent when dudes start ego lifting. They throw a ton of weight on the bar, and start performing a blend between a squat and a good morning.
Good mornings are excellent hamstring and lower back exercises, but we’re squatting here.
One of the most flawed approaches to fixing the squat morning is by thinking you need to strengthen your hamstrings and lower back. This is wrong because those muscles are already strong, or else you wouldn’t naturally default to using them during the squat. That’s your body defaulting to a position of strength.
The best way to fix the squat morning is by increasing your quad strength. Spending time hammering out leg presses, front squats, and leg extensions are an excellent way to build quad strength and prevent yourself from doing the dreaded squat morning.
- Squatting with knee valgus (knee’s caving in)
This squat issue is the bane of my very existence. It’s plagued me for years, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever fully solve it. But damn if I won’t try.
Knee valgus is one of the most common squat flaws in existence. It can show up in a typical low load goblet squat, or when people are going for heavy singles. It’s a fucking terrifying fault to have, because if things go poorly it can lead to serious knee damage via things like a torn ACL.
Surprisingly, the cause of knee valgus is a bit misunderstood, with a lot of really smart people unsure exactly what the root cause of it is.
However Bret Contreras, ass builder extraordinaire has shown that a lot of knee valgus issues can be tied to a weak glute medius.
Your glutes are made of three main muscles: the glute maximum, medius, and minimus. When you’ve got a weak glute medius, it makes sense that you’ll default to a knee valgus position during the squat to compensate.
One of the most common ways to fix that is by doing monster walks with a resistance band around your ankles or knees. Essentially slowly shuffling from side to side, in a half squat position.
Another favorite tool of mine is using a very light resistance band just below the knee and squatting lightly to help groove the feeling of shoving your knees out.
- Squatting with improper depth:
This is by far and away one of the most controversial issues in the entire lifting world. We’ve all been in a gym and seen people squatting without hitting depth, and if you’re like me you probably had to fight back the urge to call them a pansy.
Without digging too much into hip structure, it is worth stating that not everyone is actually meant to squat to parallel or below. That’s just a fact of life.
But you should try to get that point, and if after years of practice you still can’t, then maybe it’s time to accept the fact that hitting depth just isn’t for you.
If you do find yourself stopping short of depth though, the fix is simple:
Drop the weight, focus on goblet squats for awhile, start foam rolling your hip flexors and getting more range of motion in your quads, hamstrings, and lower back.
If you find yourself with any of these issues, then take some time focusing on fixing them before returning to heavy squatting. If you think you’ve got other issues, then don’t hesitate to reach out and ask if I’ve got a clue as to what’s going on. I may or may not, but I’m more than happy to help.
Happy squatting, bro’s.