From Dork to Diva: Squat

July 17th, 2008  |  Published in From dork to diva  |  49 Comments

The squat (sometimes referred to as the back squat) is one of the queens of exercises. It hits your entire body, particularly your legs, butt, hips, and lower back. Learn to do it well and your body will reward you with a fabulous (and strong) set of gams.

back squat | front squat | overhead squat

Don’t believe the heathens who tell you that the leg press is a substitute for the squat. The leg press is but a pale and petty imitation. Not only does the squat demand (and teach) strength, but also balance, coordination, endurance, and power.

The simple act of standing up under a weight is intensely demanding for your whole body. After a set of squats, even light squats, you may feel dizzy, nauseated, temporarily deaf, light-headed, or simply a powerful need to sit down. This is normal, and means that you are challenging your body in a way that few other exercises can. This effect should diminish over time. Beginners often find squats very demanding until they are well conditioned. Be patient and persistent.

If you ever want to see a real pro squat, watch a toddler. If they find something on the floor that they want, they just squat right down with perfect form to get at it. As we get older and do more sitting instead of squatting (at least in North America), we forget this very natural movement.

The majority of people in the gym do not squat, and if they do they do not do it well; they commonly cut the rep short in order to handle more weight. You must laugh at them, because they will be doomed to weak stick legs forever. You must, however, learn humility at the squat cage. Good form and good depth are more important than heavy weight.

Next time you see someone loading up the bar to squat, watch how far down they go. Most often they will do nothing more than a gentle curtsey. But you, girlfriend, are going to learn to squat right, and that means as low as you can go.

There is a lot of folk wisdom about squats being bad for your knees, back, blah blah blah. In fact, done properly, squats can actually help your knees and back become stronger and better. I have much more on the wonders of the squat in my Learning the Squat series, as well as a handy guide to self-instruction.

Alright, enough chat. More squatting!

DORK: BACK SQUAT

To the right is my pathetic attempt at a bad back squat (in general, when people say “squat” they mean “back squat”). It’s quite lacking in atrocity: you notice I am not even rounding my upper back.

At any rate, in this photo are some common mistakes in form:

  • hips coming up first, before the chest/torso so that the load is transfered on to the lower back
  • heels are coming off the floor
  • knees are caving inward (towards one another)
  • I am leaning too far forward so that my weight is on the balls of my feet

As a good morning, this wouldn’t be too bad, but as a squat, it sucks. These mistakes put a great deal of stress on to your lower back and knees. They also mean that I am off balance and could easily tip forward. I’ve seen this happen, though thankfully not to me. When you tip forward in a power cage, metal meets metal with a loud clang. Everyone turns to look. It’s just dang embarrassing. So why not avoid it altogether?

DIVA: BACK SQUAT

To execute a good squat, your initial position should be standing with the bar across your traps (upper back), not your neck. If the bar hurts, there’s a good chance it’s sitting too high. To get an idea of where the bar should sit, bend your neck forward and feel along the back of it. Notice there are a couple of prominent bony bumps at the base of your neck, where your neck meets your upper back. The bar should sit below these by at least an inch or so.

Feet are about shoulder width in this picture series. You can go wider or narrower, as you prefer. The wider the squat stance, the more your toes are likely to point out. This is fine, as long as your knees follow your toes (i.e. if toes point out, knees should also point out, not forward or inward). Experiment to find what’s most comfortable. By the way, the army boots are optional!

Take a nice deep breath, pushing your chest up and out. This puts your back in the correct position. It also helps form what I call the “meat shelf” of your traps, where the bar sits. Note that shoulders are back, and there is a gentle curve in your lower back (aka the lumbar arch). Try to keep this back position throughout the movement. I don’t mean trying to keep your upper body straight up and down, as people commonly think. The upper body should lean forward as you descend, in order to compensate for the hips moving back. A forward lean is fine, as long as it’s from the hips, not the waist. Once you are in position, begin your descent. Through the descent, retain the lumbar arch. Hips sit back and down, just like sitting down into a chair that’s not there.

The picture on the left is the bottom of a full back squat. Ideally you should aim to go as far below parallel as you can. By parallel I mean the position in which the top of the thigh is parallel to the ground. People tend to think that they are going to parallel, when in reality they are actually bottoming out much higher. To eliminate this confusion, I just stop when my hamstrings hit my calves. Notice that my lower back is slightly arched, my heels are on the floor, and I am looking forward (this helps to keep back straight). Many beginners have difficulty making the proper depth. A wider stance is sometimes a solution. I discuss other remedies in my Learning the Squat series.

People often ask about where their knees should be in this movement. It has been suggested that the knees should not drift out beyond the toes. This is very hard to do with certain kinds of squat stances. As the forward tilt of the shin increases, so does pressure on the knee joint, but most folks can handle it. Olympic lifters have quite an acute forward lean, relative to powerlifters, and they demonstrate no increased evidence of knee damage. If it bothers your knees, experiment with a wider stance. For most folks with healthy knees, it’s not a problem. Even for folks with crunchy knees, like me, it’s not a problem. Front squats are also a good alternative.

This picture does not show the safety bars, but you should set up the horizontal safety bars in your squat cage so that if you fail at the bottom, you can just set the bar down on the pins.
As I come up in the picture on the right, I keep my lower back slightly arched. My hips stay low to make sure the drive is coming from the glutes and hamstrings, rather than the back. A common mistake is to allow the hips to pop up too early in the ascent. I’m still looking forward and my knees do not bow inward.

At the top of the squat, do not lock your knees but keep them slightly bent. Re-set your starting position if needed.

There are many variations on this basic theme. One of my favourites, which hits the quadriceps (front of thigh) as well as the middle back a bit more, is the front squat. The bar is held in front instead of across the upper back. This takes a bit more balance, but once you get the hang of it, it’s great.

DIVA: FRONT SQUAT

OK, I’m not showing this one in a power cage, obviously, but it’s probably the best place to do the front squat. Put the bar across the pins in the power cage or rack, so that it’s approximately at the level of your collarbone or a bit lower. Step under the bar so that it is sitting about the base of your neck. Bring your elbows up in front of you as high as you can. I mean really high, so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor. There should now be a sort of groove formed between your shoulders and collarbone. It’s your elbows up high that’s holding the bar there, not your hands, so you don’t have to grip it hard. To get the idea of how this works, try this: stand holding your arms out straight in front of you like a B-movie zombie. Have someone place a broomstick across them, at the level of your shoulders. Notice how you can hold the broomstick in place without using your hands. That’s the concept behind the front squat rack position.

To do the clean grip, start with the zombie arms-out position, palms down. Fold your hands back toward your face and grab the bar. Palms face up. This is known as a clean grip, because this is the position that the bar rests at in the top part of the Olympic lift called the clean. The clean grip is good for people with flexible wrists and shoulders. You may also find that the bar feels more balanced with the clean grip. I began using the crossed-wrist grip, where the bar is held with palms down and wrists crossed, but moved to the clean grip and found it much more comfortable. Experiment to find the grip that is most appropriate for you. Small adjustments in the width of your hand placement will also help.

Step back and bring the bar off the pins. For a beginner, this will feel really off balance, but that’s OK. Keep your back straight. It can lean forward slightly, but will remain more upright than in a back squat. Remember to look forward as you descend into a squat. If you look down with this one, you’re sunk for sure, as floor will meet face. I recommend learning this move with a broomstick or something, just so you get the idea where the bar should rest. Many people find that they can go deeper in the front squat than in the regular squat, and/or that the front squat helps them develop the skill, flexibility, and balance to go deeper in the regular squat. In terms of weight, your front squat will usually be around 80% of your regular squat.

DIVA: OVERHEAD SQUAT

This is a fun exercise, but I don’t recommend trying it until you’ve mistressed the squat. You’ll need every ounce of balance you own. However, this exercise is great for challenging hip flexibility and strength, upper body strength, and torso stability. Start light. I mean real light. Don’t try it with the 45 lb. bar. Just trust me on this one. I, I mean a friend of mine, wiped out on her first attempt at the overhead squat because she tried it with the full-sized bar. Luckily my friend was in the power cage so no real harm was done, just a big embarrassing clang. A broomstick is a better way to begin. Then try with a light bar such as an E-Z curl bar or a light preloaded barbell.

The key to success in this exercise is holding the bar slightly behind, not directly above, your head. Think about stretching the bar outward as you hold it, like a piece of taffy. Your hands won’t actually move, of course (I hope), but trying to stretch the bar outward will keep the tension in your upper body and provide a solid foundation for the bar.

Again, this should be done in the power cage if possible. Raise your arms overhead and note how high your hands reach on the cage. Set the bar on the pins just under this point, at about the level of mid-forearm or wrist. Set the safety bars at about the level of the base of your ribcage. Approach the bar and grab it with an overhand snatch grip. A snatch grip is a very wide grip. Your shoulder flexibility and individual body mechanics will determine exactly what feels most comfortable. Take the bar off the pins and step back. Get it into position overhead, and remember, slightly behind your head. Stretch the bar taut and keep it tight. Note also that the back must have a bit of an arch.

Descend into a squat as normal. You may find that the overhead squat stance is somewhat wider, with more toe turn-out, than your regular squat stance. The rest of this movement is pretty much like a regular squat. The difference, obviously, is the position of the weight, which demands much greater attention to balance and form.

Really focus while you’re doing this movement. Unlike many other movements, the slightest lapse in concentration can result in a wipeout. It’s a great exercise, but you have to pay attention and concentrate hard while you’re doing it.

Oh yeah, and this exercise isn’t often done except in Olympic weightlifting gyms, so expect people to give you “What the hell?” looks as they continue with their sets of one thousand leg lifts.

Responses

  1. laura says:

    February 18th, 2009at 6:35 pm(#)

    I’m working out at home and I don’t have a squat cage, nor do I intend to invest in one any time soon. I am at a point with my squats where I feel that I could be squatting more weight, but I’m struggling to get the bar over my head and into the beginning position. Is this a common problem when not using a cage? Any solutions?
    Thanks!

  2. Mistress Krista says:

    February 19th, 2009at 1:16 am(#)

    1. Front squat.
    2. One-leg squat, aka pistols:
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mahler2.htm

  3. Leslie says:

    February 25th, 2009at 2:07 pm(#)

    I just have a question about squats. I have bad knees and am trying to strenghten them and have been told that I shouldn’t avoid squats, however I do feel it in my knees when I squat (my knees don’t go past my toes.) Do I have to squat down as far down as you do, or is the key just to get past the 90 degree point? Is 90 degrees not effective enough?
    Thanks! Leslie

  4. Mistress Krista says:

    February 25th, 2009at 3:53 pm(#)

    Hi Leslie, try the bottom-up squats first, as these are usually better tolerated by beginners. Or try working down using a staircase for a progressively lower platform. Often you just have to strengthen your leg muscles first.

  5. The Friday fun fitness five: Moves you can do at home « Exceptionally Fat says:

    February 27th, 2009at 6:32 pm(#)

    [...] that if you can get on and off the toilet by yourself, then you can squat. Worried about form? Read the stumptuous page on how to squat. However, if you can remember a) lead with your butt b) keep yourself fairly upright and c) keep [...]

  6. Elizabeth says:

    March 2nd, 2009at 7:12 pm(#)

    Laura – I recently invested in weighted belts (I started by making a belt out of my leg weights to add 20 pounds) and weighted vests to fix this problem, as I have trouble squatting with my dumbbells. The vest I have goes up to 40 pounds, but they make ones that go all the way up to 120. Hope this helps.

  7. Corinne says:

    March 11th, 2009at 11:29 am(#)

    I just added these squats into my routine with a light-weight Body Bar as I’m still getting used to the form and the fact that my knees CAN bend more than 90 degrees without my legs snapping in half! Who would have thunk. Someone at my gym told me I should not do squats like that because it will injure my knees. My right knee is already injured and so far these squats have done nothing but help out. My knees feel great! My goal is to graduate to an unweighted bar in the cage in about a week or two.

  8. laura says:

    March 12th, 2009at 10:08 pm(#)

    The weighted vest is a good idea. Right now I’m loving the front squats. They’re hard! But satisfying…

  9. Maiyo says:

    April 10th, 2009at 7:10 am(#)

    Hi
    I have a bit of a dilemma… for years I was doing squats and lifting weights and this managed to keep the fat off. When I hit 30, the squats started to make my legs bulge so though I am leaner I am bigger. What excercises do you suggest I do to reduce the size of my legs? I don’t want the bionic woman look..

    Another thing, what excercises are best for me in my 30s? In my twenties, a good jog was all I needed to look and feel great after about 2 weeks, but in my 30s, it takes forever to see the results..

  10. Mistress Krista says:

    April 10th, 2009at 12:12 pm(#)

    Re: reducing leg size see here:
    http://www.stumptuous.com/stumptuous-faq#lose-muscle

    You need the same exercises you did when you were in your 20s. Train hard, with basic compound movements (squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, pullups, etc.). And eat properly. 9 out of 10 people who don’t see the results they want aren’t paying attention to their nutrition, while the other one isn’t training hard enough.

  11. adventures with big girl weights | The Prudent Hedonist says:

    April 28th, 2009at 1:52 pm(#)

    [...] I squat below parallel.  I see a lot of guys at the gym squatting intimidating amounts of weight, wearing those Hulkmania looking belts, and not letting their legs bend at anything less than a 120° angle.  They are cheating. [...]

  12. Six Online Resources for Squats | 21st Century Amazon says:

    June 1st, 2009at 8:32 am(#)

    [...] From Dork to Diva: Squat (stumptuous.com) [...]

  13. Shannon Anne says:

    June 2nd, 2009at 7:50 am(#)

    Form is very important in squats, so try to watch yourself in a mirror if at all possible. Also for safety reasons use a neck cushion that wraps around the center of the bar and always wear a weight belt! Especially when squatting a lot of weight – they prevent hernias! I got one once it was not pleasant (that was completely unrelated to doing squats – but I’m sure some kind of heavy lifting was the cause).

  14. Trisha says:

    June 3rd, 2009at 12:24 pm(#)

    I’ve been doing back squats for a while now and just tried front squats today at the gym. They killed my wrists! Is there something that I’m doing wrong or do you have any recommendations on anything I can do to be able to tolerate these more?

  15. Mistress Krista says:

    June 4th, 2009at 4:24 am(#)

    Bring your elbows up. What you’re probably doing is dropping your elbows down and bending the wrists back. Ideally you want your upper arms to be parallel to the floor, elbows pointing straight ahead, for the duration of the movement. As the O-lifters say, “Lag with the elbows on the way down, lead with the elbows on the way up.”

  16. PJ says:

    July 22nd, 2009at 12:50 am(#)

    Krista, I currently weigh about 375 (previously over 500). I really wanted to do squats but “my knees were afraid” (and for good reason I’m sure). One thing I find with being supersize is that nearly all the great advice about “good form” is totally lost. It isn’t because I don’t care, it’s because I am neither shaped nor weight-balanced in a way to even make it possible. Half the “good form” approaches would leave me falling on my ass in about 2 seconds (since most my weight is in the lower-back portion of my body). I recently found, buried in a video I can’t find the link for anymore, a trainer demonstrating what he called “Goblin Squats”. Legs were spread, feet outward, hands held at chest level. This has turned out to be the ONLY squat that I can do while keeping anywhere near a decent form AND — actually do the damn thing! Bodyweight alone to start. I was wondering if you’d be willing to cover this kind of squat with some pics or video so I could link people who read my blog(s) to it. I realize these might not be “as good as” ordinary squats, but making any kind of squat and major “lower body strength” motion possible for really big people is a really big deal. Thanks as always for the effort you put into all this documentation! Best, PJ

  17. Anita says:

    July 28th, 2009at 9:29 am(#)

    Great tips.

    Regarding knee troubles – I have dislocated my knee a few times and am worried about the stress that lunges and squats do to my knee. I find it will ache and occasionally shake when I am working this area, even when wearing a knee support.

    If I keep going with the squats and get down low, will I see improvement? Or is this not the kind of knee trouble that will be improved with squats? Should I minimise squats and lunges?

    Many thanks!

  18. laura says:

    September 18th, 2009at 1:39 pm(#)

    A couple squat questions. I notice that my weight wants to move forward when I’m coming up from a squat (i.e. the tip-over motion.) What do I need to do to discourage this? Where is my form wrong that is causing the forward tipping?
    Also, I’m interested in the issue of how deep to squat. I naturally want to squat very deep, so that my butt is real close to the floor. I’ve found that squatting to lesser depth (where my thighs are parallel to the ground) is actually harder for me. The full depth seems to give me extra momentum to push off of. I just wanted to make sure that I’m not cheating by going too low.

    As a side note, I want to thank you Krista for all your great advice. I just started working out at a university gym where the weight room is chock-full of young men. I’m usually the only woman in a room of at least 100 people. But I’m also usually the only person at the squat racks. I love it! Thank you for giving me the confidence to approach the big squat!

  19. Mistress Krista says:

    September 19th, 2009at 6:00 am(#)

    Hi Laura:

    1. Forward tipping: Raise the chest first, drive through the heels. You’re popping the butt up too early.

    2. Squat as deep as you can. There is no such thing as cheating by going too low. :) There is, however, an abundant shitload of cheating by going too high.

  20. Louise says:

    October 6th, 2009at 4:33 am(#)

    Hi Krista

    As soon as I put the bar on my traps I find that my hands and wrists don’t remain in a straight line with the rest of my arm, instead the wrists push foward. Am trying different hand positions on the bar (no weights) to get better form. Any suggestions?

  21. laura says:

    October 18th, 2009at 4:39 pm(#)

    One more squat question! I made a goal for myself of squatting my bodyweight. I really like having something to motivate myself to work out, but at this point I’m wondering if it is a realistic goal. I weigh 130 pounds (I’m 5’1″) and right now I’m squatting 80 lbs. It feels like a lot to me, and I’m starting to feel doubtful about adding on another 50 lbs to that!
    I know there’s no hard and fast rule about how much a person can lift, but I’m just wondering if you think that my goal is realistic or not. I’d love to hear your take!
    Thanks as always for the advice and inspiration.
    - Laura

  22. Mistress Krista says:

    October 19th, 2009at 5:03 am(#)

    Laura: Yes, absolutely it is realistic. Realistic doesn’t mean “right away”. But it WILL happen. :) Nearly any healthy woman, with sufficient, focused training, should be able to full squat her own body weight eventually.

  23. laura says:

    October 21st, 2009at 7:18 pm(#)

    that is awesome!

  24. Liz says:

    November 2nd, 2009at 4:01 am(#)

    Hi Krista

    My gym (though good in almost every way) does not have barbells, so I’ve been doing squats with a dumbell. I keep it hanging down between my legs. Is that OK? I found that my lower back got sore with heavier weights, but I’m not sure if its my form thats the problem or if it’ll get better as I get stronger. I don’t want to hurt my back, so I’m hesitant to do realy heavy squats with a dumbell. Any ideas?

  25. Mistress Krista says:

    November 2nd, 2009at 5:57 am(#)

    Liz: Keep the head and chest up, and squeeze the shoulder blades together. You’re likely rounding the back at some point in the movement.

  26. Linda says:

    November 9th, 2009at 6:37 pm(#)

    I am anxious to incorporate these squats into my workout, but when I squat that low, my knees sound like a bowl of rice krispies. I don’t usually experience significant knee pain, although I do experience some, particularly after a step class. I am 5’8″ and weigh roughly 150 lbs. I am reasonably fit, and have no significant health issues, although I am post-meno at 43. Should I just enjoy the sound effects, or should I refrain from squatting this low?

  27. Mistress Krista says:

    November 10th, 2009at 6:06 am(#)

    Linda, warm up well beforehand, and ease into the depth by squatting progressively deeper (e.g. in a few warmup sets). And there’s nothing wrong with learning the deep squat unweighted.

    Generally what I find is that people who do things like step have problems from that, which we need to fix. In particular they have tight hip flexors and IT bands, which then pull on the knee joint. I’ve heard it said that the knee joint is the outlet valve for hip dysfunction.

  28. yane says:

    December 13th, 2009at 11:22 am(#)

    when i do the squats (movin down) my body leans forward too much. how do i squat with my back vertically? also, wld the squat work if i dont squat all the way down and only maybe at a 90deg angle? cuz my knee creates that crackling sound…

    -yane

  29. Tiana says:

    December 18th, 2009at 4:10 pm(#)

    Hi Krista,

    I just started doing squats today! I was using a 9lb body bar and I noticed that with my feet straight at shoulder width, my heels were lifting at the bottom of the movement. Should I try a wider stance?

  30. Mistress Krista says:

    December 18th, 2009at 4:23 pm(#)

    Sure — give it a try. Also try a little toe turnout.

  31. Angela says:

    January 5th, 2010at 11:47 am(#)

    Hi Krista,
    I’ve been venturing into the lower squat range and love it. I feel so empowered when doing them. However, I’ve been consistently experiencing some hip joint / hip flexor pain. Do you have any suggestions for what I might be doing wrong or some other strengthening exercises for this area? I generally consider myself pretty flexible. Thanks!

  32. Mistress Krista says:

    January 5th, 2010at 2:47 pm(#)

    Angela: Try some active mobility work for front of the hips especially before you squat. Do a search on Google video for “active mobility hips” or something along those lines. Amusingly when I did it, the first thing that came up was my own mobility video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AetPlaG_-Qs

    Also try some foam rolling or using a rolling pin on your IT band (roll along top/outside of quads). Sometimes a tight IT band will yank on the hips.

  33. Nicola says:

    January 18th, 2010at 2:11 pm(#)

    Hi Krista,

    I have been very inspired by your website and have been working on transistioning from ‘bum dips’ to big girl squats for the last month or so. I have found a mediumly wide stance that allows me to squat without falling over backwards, and decided to try adding a little weight yesterday.

    After one set, I noticed discomfort/pain in the back of my left knee. I realised that I had felt this discomfort before when squatting, but to a much lesser extent (I finished my squats un-weighted). I believe you when you say that squats don’t hurt your knees, so there must be something wrong with my technique.

    I sprained my knee last year (MC ligament) and although it is healed, there may be a bit more play in my knee joint that there should be.

    Have you come across this before? Do you have any ideas on where I may be going wrong?

  34. Mistress Krista says:

    January 18th, 2010at 5:06 pm(#)

    Nicola: It could be your technique, or it could simply be loading a joint that isn’t yet prepared for it. I find that trainees need to do about 20-25 reps of unweighted squats before they can transition well to adding weight. If you can do a set of 20-25 unweighted squats then you will likely have the stability and technique you need to progress further. In your case especially knee stability would be a concern. I’d say for now do what does not cause pain, and work on adding reps to unweighted squatting. This also allows time for maturation of connective tissue, which is important. Then, perhaps in another few weeks, give it another go.

  35. Nicola says:

    January 19th, 2010at 2:04 pm(#)

    Thanks for the advice Krista. :-)

  36. alex says:

    February 15th, 2010at 6:33 am(#)

    Really appreciate the site – it has been an inspiration to me!

    I’m in the fairly early stages of learning to squat (holding up to a 10kg dumbbell where the bar will go to help me learn to balance the weight) and I’m having some difficulty figuring out what I’m supposed to be doing in the front squat.

    It took me a while to get the hang of ‘sitting back’ into the back squat. I do them (well below parallel) on a stack of gym mats to really encourage me to reach back with my butt. I certainly can’t get ATG before my butt starts to wink, though.

    I saw a youtube clip where Dan John was teaching the front squat and he said to sit straight down between the legs by opening up the hips on descent to make space for your torso. I can get properly ATG in doing this. I’m not rounding my back forwards and I certainly feel things in my abs and obliques. I can get some kind of stretch reflex bounce out of the hole (not calves impacting hamstrings) so I guess something is holding the tension – but it surely doesn’t feel anywhere near as ‘loaded’ as the back squat. Does this sound kind of okay to you – or should I be ‘sitting back’ rather than straight down on the front squat? I’m hoping to incorporate the movement into a clean one day :-)

  37. Mistress Krista says:

    February 15th, 2010at 8:57 am(#)

    Alex: Whatever Dan John says, goes. :)

  38. alex says:

    February 18th, 2010at 5:09 am(#)

    So long as I haven’t misunderstood / misrepresented him :-/

    I guess there are a whole bunch of different ways of doing things… The crossfit people seem to sit back rather than straight down, for instance.

    When I first learned to squat the gym guy got me squatting facing a wall so I learned to ‘sit back’ and keep the weight on my heels. In order to get the depth I needed to have a really wide stance, though, and it was hell on my hips. When I mentioned that to him he said he didn’t mean for me to squat so low…

    I’ve had a clicky / arthritic hips for as long as I can remember. Doing the bodyweight squat progressions that you suggested here have resulted in it not clicking anymore! Took months to get ATG painfree, but my hips now feel the best I ever remember them feeling. They still feel a little loose in the sockets, though. I guess I was worried that I’d misunderstood the ‘sitting down’ thing and that doing that with weight would aggravate my hips. I guess I can stop doing it if it hurts, though. And take it slow and be sure not to descend too fast.

    Thanks so much for the site. I first started exercising / weight training about 9 months ago after a life of being sedentary. Not long after I joined the gym I discovered this site. Thanks so much for rescuing me from boring cardio (that I was getting close to quitting) and inspiring me to weight train seriously! I’m very close to a chin-up and can military press 1/3 my bodyweight. Yay me :-) You have been a real inspiration to me. Thanks a bunch.

  39. Mistress Krista says:

    March 12th, 2010at 8:13 am(#)

    Anita: Keep going. Use light weight and work on balance, technique, and range of motion. If you’ve dislocated a knee try split squats with rear leg elevated instead of lunges, as you have a bit more control in that situation. With the split squats, make sure your front shin is roughly perpendicular to the floor and your hips are dropping straight down.

    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/DBSingleLegSplitSquat.html

  40. Mistress Krista says:

    March 12th, 2010at 8:19 am(#)

    Louise: Stretch out the front of your shoulders before squatting. Here’s a good presquat warmup movement:

    http://stronglifts.com/shoulders-dislocations/
    http://www.exrx.net/Lists/ExList/ShouldWt.html#anchor166631 (see stretches)

  41. Mistress Krista says:

    March 12th, 2010at 8:29 am(#)

    Yane: You don’t squat with your back vertical. Some forward lean is entirely normal. Just make sure that:

    a) You’re leaning from the hips, not the waist
    b) Your chest comes up first when you ascend, not your hips

    I don’t recommend stopping at 90 degrees. Better to learn to do a full range squat with less resistance. Warm up your knees well and squat unweighted for high reps till you build the joint stability, technique, and balance required.

  42. KicknKnit says:

    March 25th, 2010at 2:57 pm(#)

    Hiya!

    I’m new to lifting.. actually haven’t started yet, but I want to. Despite training in karate, I seem to have very little strenght in my legs (go figure).

    I tried the motion of the squat and darn near fell on my face (no weigths. Just me and my mirror).

    I did find that if I hold onto something in front of me (counter, column, table) I can execute the motion just fine.. and I’m not relying TOO much on something else to hold me up.. is that a good place for me to start? I’d like to move up eventually but don’t have access to a squat cage.

    Any thougths are appreciated.. thanks!

    BTW: your site is the reason I’ve been dreaming of lifting!

  43. Mistress Krista says:

    March 25th, 2010at 3:35 pm(#)

    KicknKnit: Help is on the way! http://www.stumptuous.com/lurn-to-squat-good-e-zy

  44. john says:

    April 11th, 2010at 11:13 am(#)

    Great stuff all you doing the squat. There is always debate on how deep you should squat. If you cannot do a full squat and get back up again then you are using too much weight. Form is everything. Squats with good form strenghten knees and does not damage them. They become more important as you get older for retaining muscle mass, heart and lung function.

    Stay Well Stay Happy All

    John

  45. Elle says:

    April 30th, 2010at 8:55 am(#)

    My squats fall in the “dork” category, because when I squat lower, I fall over backward. What am I doing wrong?

  46. They Like To Ask Me What the Best Booty Exercise Is… :: Exercise :: blacKandi Fitness says:

    July 29th, 2010at 2:55 pm(#)

    [...] to use added weight to your squats you can by using a weight vest and/or a barbell or dumbbells see Stumptuous.com HERE for instructions (this is the website where I learned how to squat as a [...]

  47. Isabel says:

    February 25th, 2011at 2:51 pm(#)

    Hey, just wanted to say thanks for the awesome info!

    I’ve had ridiculous amounts of people compliment my form in squats thanks to you, and I get to feel superior to the dorks in the smith machine.

    I also can squat more weight than my own body now, which is rad.

    Thanks for the help, this website is amazing!

  48. Have you seen my squat? | raynes gets ripped says:

    March 3rd, 2011at 7:30 pm(#)

    [...] From Dork to Diva: Squat [...]

  49. sugarsmax says:

    March 30th, 2011at 5:11 am(#)

    I just started lifting again, and have reviewed and used a lot of info from your site. what a difference already! I’d like to add my I can’t believe he said that moment to the mix regarding the directions I got for squats. I was actually told to squat to the bench below the rack & sit on it between reps, since I “didn’t need to go down that far.” Seriously dude? You’re the trainer? Do you hear yourself talk? Thank God I love my gym- they have a great free weight area for women.


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