11 myths about how to squat debunked and how when a squat is done incorrectly, will slowly damage these body parts.And also the real answer as to the truth about it being great to firm the bum!
Myth #1) Knees do not go past the toes
If you are doing an Olympic squat, your knees would move forward, and often they’d go past the toes. If you didn’t squat like that when doing Olympic lifting, you would begin to aggressively load your back and shoulder in an abnormal way, thereby causing continuous pressure resulting in injuries to your shoulder and low back.
A good way to think about it would be to envision someone who is 5’ and someone who is 6’6, like Michael Jordan.
Both have a barbell on their neck and the both squat holding their knees behind their toes. Whose bum (hips) are further back?
Yes’ Michael Jordan’s, so all you did was prevent some load to the knees in exchange for heavy loading on the back!
I’ll be launching my How To Squat series later on where you can grab what I call the “sweet squat technique”, which will help you master the lift without ruining your back or knees.
Myth #2) Squats are the best exercise to firm, tone and “lift” the bum
In the world of performance, where I mostly trained we did basic tests to see if the athlete’s bum was working (It’s called being glute dominant). By that I mean, we made sure that in simple exercises the bum activated.
For most, the bum didn’t do much and if it did, it was secondary to the back of the thigh (hamstrings), which activated first and did most of the work.
If you google it you’ll see it’s called crossed-pelvis syndrome, or lower cross syndrome.
So many people have this that when they squat, their glutes (bum) doesn’t do its job, making it next to impossible to get it toned, fit and firm.
You can’t firm a muscle if it isn’t working right (not firing properly), no matter if you did 1000 squats!
As well, you all know about the barbell and how it travels as you go into a squat and rise out of a squat. The barbell should travel in a straight line, yet so many people are unable to execute this.
Not only is it not a “true” squat (that’s a squat that abides by all 4 laws of squats), but it also transfers weight to the middle and front of the foot, which will cause the quadriceps muscles to dig you out of the hole.
The glutes, due to a lack of strength in most cases, along with other weak core muscles, cannot do their job. This will not get your hips/bum firm, or to even activate much for that matter.
So, it is actually your technique when learning to perform a proper squat that will dictate whether the squat style you use is “thee best exercises for the bum” as many claim it is to be.
It is, if it is done correctly and you go low!
Myth #3) Squats don’t harm the knees
When learning about something you should always look for someone who is looking to get all the evidence and has a lot of knowledge. Anybody else will just be aligning with what they believe.
Squats can easily harm your knees if you don’t know how to do them. And the biggest flaw that would contribute to knees wear is when you squat (either on the way up, or down) do your knees buckle in?
If they do, then it is bad for the knees.
Also, you have to look at someone’s history. Here are some things that may make a squat harmful to your knees.
– A long thigh bone (most high level lifters are quite short)
– High level athlete in sports that have aggressive stops and starts. An example would be tennis, basketball and many others.
– Years of wear from life and poor movement patterns. An example would be the way you bend down to look in the fridge (on the balls of your feet with your knees shot forward).
– Volume. 3 sets of 15, 30 day squat challenges, timed workouts that have volume will all expedite knee wear, degradation of the joint and perhaps major injury.
– Open squats: I call these open squats because there is no box involved to sit on. These squats, which are just normal squats, allow much more torque to be applied to the knee joint. Box squats, pin squats and partials do not.
Myth #4) Arch your Back When You Squat
What can I say about this dumb statement except for “Wow”! “You’re joking, right?”
If I asked you to lift 400 pounds off of a rack, even if you were to only move it from a slight squat to totally upright (partial) and you did it; would you, while you were standing with 400 pounds on your bones, make a banana out of your back?
If you did, you could possibly end your lifting days and even your overall health in one swift movement.
Now, think of lessening the load, going deeper, which will add more pressure to the back (if you do a power squat and or don’t have perfect form), and doing it many thousands of times.
It won’t be long before your back fails you and ends your days in the gym.
The low back should have a natural curve to it. If you are unable to maintain a natural curve you do not have enough strength in your core and in your legs to lift what you’re lifting.
That aside, there is also the art of the brace. This is knowing how to use the core in a timely fashion to stabilize the spine; and sadly, the tips, secrets or skills, whatever people like to call them, are unknown and never taught.
Most people know, “keep your abs tight” and that’s about it. That alone will not hold up, especially on a power squat.
Myth #5) The wink/hip tuck is good/normal
This wink (or hip tuck) is the result of your genetics or your tight hip and thigh muscles. It could be a combination of both yet needless to say, it is dangerous for your spine and over time, will result in a disc injury to your low back. A disc bulge or herniation may develop.
A good clean squat has the hips set with no tucking movement occurring at any point in the squat.
Here’s a video by one of the world’s best, he explains it perfectly for you.
Myth #6) There Is only one way to perform a squat correctly
This is one of the biggest problems in teaching a proper squat. It’s always someone showing you how to squat, but never showing you variations to keep your workouts fun and challenging while minimizing wear and tear at one angle using one style of squat your whole life.
To these individuals, there is only “one way” to squat and over time this repetitious movement will for certain begin to wear out your hip knee or back, depending on which squat you were shown.
Unless you’re competing in squat competitions, you should learn a few ways to squat to not only keep your workouts fresh and fun, but to also challenge different muscle groups and avoid wear and tear.
Just be sure you are coached properly when you learn how to squat, otherwise, it won’t matter how you mix things up, you’ll be causing harm with each rep you do.
Examples of some different style squats would be:
It’s fun to learn new skills, yet it will be even more fun when you can lift at 60 while still feeling and looking 40; many still set PR’s well into their 60’s!
Myth #7) I have a trainer so I know how to squat
In the world of fitness, there are courses to become a trainer that are only 2 days long! And after that, you are qualified and certified to teach people how to move properly. Uh….YIKES!
There are also other forms of certifications that are a bit longer but with no real instruction on how the body works.
Sadly, as you hire these people, the health of your body will now be in the hands of someone who “magically” learned physiology and biomechanics in two days.
To perform a squat properly, you’ll need a very smart coach because the squat is a very skilled and intricate lift. Unfortunately they are hard to find, but be sure to do your homework so you can get the right one.
I’ll be building tutorials soon that you can get which will give you all the information you need.
In the meantime, comment below with any questions you have.
Myth #8) Squats will help my knee pain
Umm……nope! They won’t. If you have knee pain, you will want to first find out what the problem is, and then begin to restore the imbalance or injury to 100%.
In many cases the problem is a tight IT band or a weak inner thigh, both of which squatting may continue to make worse.
This is because the open stance keeps the outside quad muscle shortened (and it is connected to the iT band) and the open stance also minimizes the amount of inner thigh activation, that you would see if you had with a closed (10 toes forward) stance. Or even a slight pigeon toed stance. Which you would not do squatting of course.
Yes, a squat can be done while rebuilding a knee, however there are other more advanced and intelligent exercise to get your knee back to full health.
Also, the squat would have to be modified and corrected as in many cases, it was the initial culprit to the knee injury.
Myth #9) Keep your feet facing forward
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a world level lifter, be it in Olympic lifting or power squatting, perform a squat with their feet fully facing forward.
This, for the majority of the world, would cause the ball that is inside our hip socket to ”knock” on the hip socket wall. This would stop the hips from moving which would then cause the back to finish the lift.
This is why so many people feel their low back when they squat, and so many more injure it doing a squat.
Hip tightness also causes the back to move when it shouldn’t.
It’s not impossible to do a squat with feet facing forward and holding great form, but it is a rare few that can do that.
The open stance (toes out a bit) allows the head of the femur (ball), to move out of the hip socket. This gives the hips more freedom to move before an end range is found (wink/tuck).
Myth #10) Squats are safe for your back
The safest squat for your back is an Olympic squat, but the problem is most people in the world aren’t flexible enough to do one.
The power squat on the other hand, the squat they are screaming around the world as the only way to squat (keep your knees behind your toes) has more possibility to hurt the back as the torso is often angled, sometimes to 30 degrees or more!
The other reason I say this is a lie is because without a full understanding on how to support your back during a lift, any type of squat will be bad for your back.
When you perform a squat properly and apply the core to the lift to secure the spine, then, yes, the squat would be safe for your back.
Don’t forget lie #4, the back arch, again, using the banana back will ensure this lie remain one.
Myth #11) Anyone can squat low
A good low squat has no hip wink, no banana back and a barbell that travels up and down without moving forward.
With so many people having tight hips, being taught with poor form and in many cases not having the genetics to go low, this is one of the biggest lies going.
And for those who continue to squat low, either oblivious to the problems they have (poor form) or for the purpose of doing it because everyone else is, you can be almost certain that back trouble will appear down the line. And that each rep is slowly chipping away at what once was, a nice and healthy spine.
And be careful, because knee pain may not be far behind.
Be comfortable doing a squat that suits your abilities and slowly build your way up so you can go lower.
There are many lifters in the world who don’t squat low and many more who use a box.
Use common sense, get expert coaching and enjoy the journey of becoming a great lifter. Just do so without killing your body!
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