Fitness tip - Learning the squat

Fitness tip - Learning the squat

by Evigan Xiao 03 Apr 2019

The squat is one of the first few movements we learn as human beings; we did it all the time as babies! However, many of us began to lose touch with that ability, due in no small part to the prevalence of sitting. However, learning (or rather, re-learning) the squat need not be an uphill task. Your body already has everything it needs to perform it – you just need to remember how to use it.


Squatting requires the coordination of three sets of joints in your lower body: the hips, knees and ankles. There is also an upper body component to it that affects posture and balance, so squatting is technically a full-body movement. Try moving through these drills to get your squats on point.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


1. Wall touch

The squat and all its variations begin with a hip hinge. A proper hip hinge sees the hips sliding back with the knees remaining stationary and the back retaining a neutral arch. This can be practiced by standing about half a foot's distance from a wall and trying to touch it with your rear. Pay attention to the position of your ankles and knees while using your breath to brace the midsection and retain the lumbar arch.


2. Box squat

The fear of falling over is something that can have a significant impact on being able to execute a proper squat confidently. Hesitation and poor judgement can lead to miscues, but using something as simple as a box can eliminate that. Once you've begun your hinge, allow your knees and ankles to follow by bending and lowering yourself downwards. Once your hamstrings come into contact with the box, hold the position briefly before rising back up. The height of the box can be raised or lowered to fit the individual, and benches can also be used in lieu of boxes.


3. Concentric goblet squat

Common mistakes in the squat tend to occur during the concentric phase – that is when the individual comes out of the bottom. With beginners, errors can include the hips shooting back, chest collapsing forward and a caving in of the knees. Overloading the bottom position of the squat can allow an individual to build strength and confidence in this area while also making it easier to address the aforementioned movement flaws. As this approach works best by avoiding unnecessary fatigue, there should be no additional load imposed during the eccentric portion of the movement.


4. 5-2 tempo squat

Tempo is a great tool for building strength and ingraining proper movement patterns. By emphasising the eccentric and bottom isometric, it teaches control, stability and the importance of maintaining full-body tension throughout the squat. Utilising the goblet position makes it more slightly demanding on the upper body while simplifying lower-body mechanics. Be sure to depress the scapula and engage the lats to create a “tall” chest (aka. thoracic extension) at the top of each repetition. Lower for five seconds, hold the bottom for two seconds, and come straight out of the bottom as explosively as you can.


5. Back squat

The high bar back squat is the ultimate squat variation for training athleticism, so much so that you would find it being programmed into just about any serious athlete's training routine. The posterior positioning of the barbell will make the movement feel slightly different compared to the previous exercises, but the basics remain the same: brace the entire body, start with hip hinge, follow through with the knees and ankles, rise straight up to completion. As you grip the barbell, try to keep your arms in line with your torso – this makes it easier to keep an upright chest.


Squats may be notorious for leaving some too weak to even climb a flight of stairs, but they are a necessary movement when it comes to strength training. While it is referred to as a “basic” movement, there are complex processes involved. As such, it's important for these processes to be iron-clad in order for the integrity of the movement to be sound. If need be, regress through the order of the drills to properly address shortcomings before moving forward.