Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
November 20, 2017
We all have those moments when we go to a gym, and ultimately get shown up by some “bro” who loves checking his swole. Typically this is some false sense of control and power that certain douche nozzles like to utilize in hopes of landing their gym babe. Of course, most of the gym babes are often focusing on their own gains rather than looking at muscled up boys that drink PED smoothies. Anyway, the other side of the coin is you genuinely run into some people that have a clue with what they are doing, so when they give you actual advice, it is not from a place of disgust and derision. For me that happened during my vacation to Austin, Texas. While at Gold’s Gym, I tried to start the day off when I hit the back squats. Of course, little did I know a couple gym bros would point out that I was doing the squat wrong. Okay, I thought they were being a little nosy and trying to insert their will against me, but on the other hand, they brought up a good point. I was bending too much on the back squat, and thanks to the help of one named Kyle, showed me a exercise out that would help keep me upright. You see, doing a back squat may be one of the cooler moments of power lifting, but when done improperly you can set yourself up for some issues down the line. Now why should it matter? I mean, the whole point of back squatting is to log as much weight on your back as you can, right? Well, on that point, you are dead wrong. Needless to say, that day brought a bit of an epiphany for me, and led me to realize how wrong I had been in regards to the back squat. This one day in Texas forced me to reassess just about everything when it came to my squatting.
Now let’s look at the very “art” of squatting. I say art because it truly is a misunderstood movement within the fitness world. For one thing, people tend to forget that it has a very practical purpose, whether you are doing the front or the back. https://www.mensfitness.com/training/build-muscle/get-stronger-7-reasons-never-neglect-squats Most people will skip this maneuver mainly because they count with the basic retort of “leg day sucks” and go exclusively work on the leg press. The leg press is fun and a good ego boost (especially when you leg press over 1,000 like I did once) but not nearly as effective as the squat. Think about the time your legs might have been sore and stiff, mainly from a day of sitting on your rump all day or something. Then try to remember how your legs felt after you took up residence at the squat rack. They felt much warmer and looser. In some cases for me, they felt ready for a short run even though I maybe did 30 or so squats with medium to heavy weight. That feeling you are getting is the elasticity you are creating within your core and your leg muscles. First and foremost, you are creating flexibility within your legs because you are engaging multiple muscle groups to get from a low position to a standing position. When done properly, you are engaging your lower back and your core to a point that will strengthen those said areas and allow your muscles to stretch. Now look at some of my earlier problems with my legs. I was seriously neglecting my leg work, and the ultimate comeback for that neglect was inflammation in my achilles tendons. After months of working and resting, my legs feel loose enough to actually start running again. And while I have decided to take a week off from the intense running and calorie counting, I have still been doing squat work in the gym. Now how can you do a proper squat you might ask? First and foremost, to do a squat right you have to keep your body in a fairly erect position. A lot of people make the ultimate mistake by sticking their butt out and using their back as a leverage point for the movement. This is what I was doing a lot of, and it could have contributed to some of my constant back problems. While you can certainly get some good weight if you squat like this, you can definitely hurt yourself. The key is to maintain flexibility and enough balance to have your body go into a straight line down. You then engage your thigh muscles to bring you back up and complete the squat while getting your legs at least at a 90-degree angle. Sounds like torture doesn’t it. Well, that was my first reaction when I started fixing my form. Essentially the best way to make sure you do the squat properly is to get yourself right in front of a wall, set you position up and squat. If your face is hitting the wall, that means you are doing it wrong. The ultimate goal is to get the tip of your toes on the wall and be able to go straight down without leaning forward. That is the ultimate goal for the squat. In one movement you have flexibility mastered, center of gravity maintained and core strength fully developed. That is the goal when doing this type of movement. Weight will come as you get better at it, but mastering the technique is just as important. There is a big reason why you need to master this….escape. Much like working with Olympic lifting, you need to make sure you can duck out of a movement if you accidentally break down in the middle of it or you attempt a personal best. Having a more aligned and straightened posture will aid in this. Just imagine if you were sticking your butt out and then tried to escape. You could still hurt yourself and cause a long term injury that could knock you out of the game. So before you start worrying about weight, consider this exercise to get your body moving in the right direction.
The final detail we will discuss about the squat is the benefit of the back and the front squats. Clearly, this article has focused squarely on the back squat. It’s the prettier of the twin siblings, and will naturally get more attention due to this detail. But hold on, the front squat has a lot of other little moves that can make it a very attractive option in the gym. First of all, when you are initially working on your posture, the front squat will aid much more in that development. Since you have to keep your chest out to maintain a holding position for the squat bar, your body naturally has to work on its posture lest you want to see a lot of dropped bars in the near future. You not only develop the posture, you also develop a little dexterity in your hands and your wrists. And then think about this for a second. Since you have to keep your arms steady and firm, you are also putting a little work into your arm game while also working your core, back and legs. It’s a nearly perfect all around exercise! So yes, its can be a little uncomfortable, but the long reaching benefit will make glad you put the work in. Plus, by strengthening your legs through this particular exercise, you are also giving yourself the extra boost to improve your Olympic lifting game. If you improve your flexibility and strength on the front squat, this also means your power cleans, hang cleans and snatches will get better as you acquire more strength and steam in your movement. So in finality, why are you not squatting?!
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About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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