Coach’s Corner: Troubleshooting the Squat

Here are two tips to clean up your squat.

Often touted as the king of all lower body exercises, the squat is a fantastic exercise at improving lower body strength. Without instruction, many perform squats with poor mechanics and end up hurting their knees. It’s often been said that squats are bad for your knees, but actually, squats can strengthen your knees if performed correctly.

Here are two tips to clean up your squat.

1. If you fall backwards, squat with plates under your heels

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a 1-inch lift underneath each heel. Hold your arms out like a zombie. Squat down. Push your knees out and keep your chest up. The goal is to squat with your hips dropping below your knees while keeping your heels flat on the plates. Lean forward slightly to maintain balance over your feet. Be careful not to sit toward your toes as this will put shear stress on your knees.

RELATED: Coach’s Corner: Troubleshooting the Deadlift

2. If you lean too far forward, front-load your squat

Hold a dumbbell lengthwise in front of your chest with your elbows pointing down—a kettlebell works well too. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart either on the ground or on 1-inch plates if you need the heel-lift. Squat down. Push your knees out and keep your chest up. The goal is to squat with your hips finishing below your knees while keeping your heels flat on the floor/plates. You will still lean slightly forward to maintain balance over your feet.

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Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc, CSCS is a runner, strength coach and owner of JKConditioning in St. John’s, NL, Canada. Jon specializes in strength training distance runners and is currently in the middle of preparing a strength training resource for runners. Stay in touch by checking out www.StrongerRunner.com and www.JKConditioning.com.

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