7 Trainers Weigh In: How to Get Your Best Squat

| Fitness

squat

Ah, the squat — the most foundational, versatile movement in exercise. Even though it's so popular and commonly used with dozens upon dozens of variations, it's so easy to perform incorrectly. That's a problem! You could be squatting your way into an injury or squatting for no good reason. Doing any type of exercise with poor form can defeat the purpose, leading you to energy expenditures and no real results. Instead of Skinny Mom reviewing the squat with you, read what these personal trainers and exercise experts have to say about mastering the squat!

The perfect squat is a movement with total body coordination, including breath, alignment and balance. The goal of the squat is to strengthen the gluteal muscles, while recruiting the quads, core, hamstrings and back muscles. Perhaps you've been doing the squat for years without realizing your form is off. Let's look at the most common slip-ups first:

MOST COMMON MISTAKES

"We see a lot of women roll their knees to the interior. In order to combat that movement, we place a band around their knees and have them squat. If the band falls to the floor, their knees are stilling caving in. If the band stays tight and their knees are pushed to the outside of their shoes, then their form is correct." — Jason Hilliard, CrossFit Coach

"The main thing I notice with people I work with is that they really put the weight in their toes when performing a squat, when really the weight should be in your heels, activating the core, butt and hamstrings a bit more. Practice sitting down in and out of a chair by pushing the weight through the heels. The second mistake people make is they don't activate their core enough or keep their chest up. Instead, they have an excessive forward lean and can really strain the low back. I always say to focus on something slightly above your forward gaze." — Lunden Souza, CPT, Coach, Lifestyle Planner

"Most women are quad dominant (fire quads before glutes and hamstrings) and so it is extra important to address the glute firing early on so that emphasis in placed in the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) and not the anterior (quads). Once mobility and activation are assessed it is time to learn the squat. I like to start people off with a bodyweight box squat. This allows for focus on sitting back to a target without the fear of falling over. " — Sarah Dimmick, CPT

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BEGINNERS

"First grab something sturdy like a door frame that can support your body weight. Lean back against it and sit down into a squat. Go as deep as you can. This is a great way to begin squatting because you can feeling what it's like to sit back into a squat. This is the best time to figure out which squat stance works best for you." — Henry Halse, CPT, CSCS

"One of the best ways to learn the squat is through goblet squat variations [see video below]. This basically involves holding a counterweight in front of you as you squat. For most people, most of their issues with squatting come from either lack of mobility or lack of stability in the back, hip and ankle joints. So, they contort their body and do strange stuff in an attempt to avoid falling over. A counterweight prevents us from tipping backward so we can use that to find the proper positioning." — Todd Nief, CrossFit Level 2 Coach, USA Weightlifting Level 2, OPEX Level 2

"Use a counter or elevated surface to help with the ascent potion of the squat. This will help with raising your hips and torso as well as balance issues. Since the rise in popularity of suspension training with TRX ... there are a number of variations available. These include a standard squat with a lean back, overhead squat, and single leg squat for more help with balance." — Kenneth Miller, NASM, CrossFit Level 2 coach

>> WATCH: 10 Moves to Know Before Your First TRX Class

"Start with the pelvic tilt/abdominal bracing exercise to ensure you have good core stabilization. Progress to bridging. Progress to the leg press with light weights. Focus on slow controlled movement and achieving a 90-degree bend at the knee. Now move to the sit-to-stand exercises on a low chair. Engage your core and sit back, making sure your knees don't move in front of your toes. Start squatting with a stability [ball] placed behind your low back against the wall. Begin unweighted squats without the ball." — Taylor Moore, PT, DPT, CSCS