Would you like to know how to do a power squat that will not only give you amazing speed to help you get faster, but also to give you great strength and a rock hard core (whole torso and glutes) while keeping your knees from getting blown to bits and your back from getting squished?
We all would! The only problem is that every person seems to have a “certain way” to squat and nobody factors in an individual’s body type.
Here’s a video to help explain the groin stuff along with the practice exercise to help you find a starting point.
Do You Need Loose Hamstrings When Learning How To Power Squat?
It’s interesting how the hamstrings get blamed for pretty much any flaw you have on the squat. If your back folds at the hip “you probably have tight hamstrings”, if you have a bad back “you probably have tight hamstrings”.
While there is truth to tight hamstrings being a problem for athletes and fitness go’er’s alike, it is often the position of the persons hips when learning how to squat, that is causing the torso to “fold” and the back to get crunched.
If you factor in the length of your thigh bone when doing a power squat and you adjust your position to accomodate this, without pulling the hips as far back as possible, you will be a great lifter with an amazing squat!
What this means is, for some of you, the knees will move more forward than others to keep your back straighter and your chest more upright during the squat.
You are still doing a power squat (a squat whereby the hips go backwards and down, versus the Olympic Squat which has the knees shoot forward), it’s just not as exagerated as most. This will keep your from low back pain and the possibility of you destroying your spine.
So What Does Need to Be Loose To Do A Power Squat?
Power Lifters and Olympic lifters have loose hamstrings for sure, however the more important muscle when learning how to squat (and not an Olympic Lift just yet) is Adductor Magnus. As well as Psoas Major (your hip flexor).
This goes for both squats, however has a greater significance on the Power Squat regarding your back.
The adductor muscles (Adductor Magnus being the key one) will help you to keep an upright torso when attempting to draw your hips back. And the Hip Flexors will help to keep a natural curve in your low back when trying to perform a proper squat.
If you don’t have a core, How Can You Do A Proper Power Squat?
Many view the core as your abs and obliques, and for many, just your abs. This is not the case, and for some specialists in biomechanics, the core is everything from your knees to your shoulders.
For us, and the puropose of this article, we will describe the core as the Glutes, Hip Flexors, Obliques, Abdominals and Lats.
Try this simple exercise on yourself first, and if you’re a trainer or coach, on your clients or athletes.
Find a box or something that you can sit on. One that is low to the ground; around 10 -12 inches. Now grab a wooden dowel and place it on your traps to mimmick a barbell. Then open your feet so your toes are slightly pointed out and some part of your heel is in line with your shoulders.
It doesn’t matter how much of your heel as long as it’s not too wide or too narrow.
Place your feet in front of the box about 3/4 of an inch to 1 inch away from it. Start to lower your self using proper form on your power squat until you sit on the box.
Now, the chances are, your dowel no longer is aligned with your heels and you either pushed your hips to far out, or you shot your knees to far forward. You’re fine though.
Here’s what you’ll do next. Take a deep breath and begin to lean slighty forward or back to realign the dowel so it’s over your heels. Try to do this with your chest looking forward (even if the torso is at a slight angle).
Once you find this position, press through your heels and try to stand up. It will be hard because what you’ll be looking at is whether or not you move your knees forward to do this.
If you move your knees forward, you just transfered weight towards the front of your body and you just asked your quads to do most of the work.
This is how many try to squat, yet do not realize they don’t hav a core strong enough for a power squat.
How Deep SHould I Squat?
If you’re an athlete, I would not recommend doing a proper squat too low, as few sports requires this, and the ones that do, are often on 1 leg (like figure skating). Check out how to squat properly with a partial squat technique
If you’re a power lifter and want to improve your squat technique and learn how to squat properly, you will need to go fairly low (parallel thigh, which is actually a lower than parallel femur). You would obviously mix this depth up with partials and such along with a low rep count to keep the knees and back safe.
If you’re a fitness enthusiast, I would vary my squat from Olympic to Power to keep things fresh and to keep your joints from wearing out too fast.
As for how low, well, I wouldn’t go too low as there are many more fun ways to lift and to challenge yourself while still building a firm and fit body.