Doesn’t it suck when you have the best of intentions, train your ass off and still don’t see the type of gains that you feel you should be seeing? There are many reasons why this could be happening, so what you need to do is take stock of what you are doing so that you can correct the mistakes. And one of the most basic movements – squats – is also one of the biggest culprits for making the easy ones.
Some of these mistakes may seem trivial, but they spell disaster when all lumped together. You want to have every advantage possible when performing such a taxing movement and to use this as a checklist of what NOT to do:
1. STARTING AT A POINT TOO HIGH
We’re talking about when you are getting yourself under the bar in either the cage or in front of the squat rack. If the pins or hooks are too high and you have to reach up even as little as an inch to unrack the weight, picture how shitty that is going to be when you go to rerack it.
It’s so much easier to put the pins at a lower mark so that you have to bring the weight down a little bit to get it back on. This will save you some much-needed stamina and not have to stand there frozen looking like a dick because you can’t reach up enough after banging out a grueling set.
2. FUCKING UP YOUR BREATHING TECHNIQUE
Yeah, we’ve all don’t this one. It may not seem like a big deal but this can really dictate a lot. People spend so much time and effort getting themselves ready for their first rep that they either don’t take in a breath or take one at the wrong time and location.
Taking a breath in as you are on the way down and putting the air into your chest may seem like protocol, but they are actually the exact opposite. Take the entire breath in before you begin your descent and do so into your belly. The latter will maximize the pressure into your entire core and is a safer way to go.
3 . ALLOWING YOUR KNEES TO GO TOO FAR FORWARD
Picture an imaginary line from your toes up and you should be hitting the optimal depth when your knees are at that point. You should be sitting back comfortably when you’re at the bottom of the rep before coming back up. When you’re leaning forward, your knees are at risk for injury and this will take the emphasis away from your quads, as well.
And you guys that like to put your feet on a board or two small plates, all that is doing is ensuring that your knees will be out of line.
4. LOOKING ALL THE WAY UP
The old school mentality was to put your head back slightly and look up while you were squatting. (This writer was taught that way back in the mid-1980s by an experienced power lifter.) But someone with a medical degree apparently did a study on it and found out that it was really stupid to do all along, as this was actually putting a marked curve in the cervical portion of the spine.
So it behooves you to be a little vain and watch yourself in the mirror while you’re squatting. That way, you know that your neck and spine are aligned correctly.
5. NOT KEEPING A FLAT BACK
So you’re starting at a low pin, got the breathing all figured out, have your toes and knees lined up and looking straight ahead. Nothing else could possibly go wrong, right? Wrong! With all of that weight being balanced, it is fairly common to see people rounding their back while they are on the way down. This is the easiest way to not only get stuck, bit also fuck up your discs.
What you want to do is keep your spine slightly arched at the base and push your chest out. This will help keep proper form and not have the weight push you forward. If it still does, then you need to go a little lighter.