Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Squat - Part of The Big Three

I just started on a new Strength training program, which focusses on 5 exercises, including The Big Three. 
Therefore I thought I'd share my thoughts on these three exercises, and how they are performed, but spreading it out for a couple of days, so you can focus on one exercise at the time.

First off, let me tell you what The Big Three are; Squat, Bench press, and Deadlift.
These exercises are big compound moves and some of the best moves to do, if you want massive strength gains.

Squat:

If you don't know what a squat is or look like, it's about time you found out. To see what a squat looks like, have a look at the photo on the left.
The reason why you should be doing squats, is that you use the same muscles every time you sit or stand from a chair.
Overall it is also a great exercise, as you work not only your quadriceps and glutes, but also your lower back, upper back, and core.
Some people even says that doing squats can help relieve lower back pain (I haven't found any evidence of this so far though).

So, how do we perform the squat?

The squat can be performed with or without any weights, but the one I'm going to tell you about now, is the one from the photo above; weighted squat.
  • Starting position:
    • The barbell is placed just below C7 (the bony vertebra on the neck), on the upper trapezius.
    • Hands should be tight on the barbell, not too far from the shoulders, and the elbows should be pointing downwards.
    • The chest should be lifted / pushed forward, and the butt should be sticking out (so your spine gets a nice curve from your butt and all the way up to the barbell).
    • You feet should be about hip-width apart, perhaps a little more, depending on preferences. What is really important though is that your knees follow the direction of the 2nd toe on your feet (Otherwise you might end up with knee-injuries, due to wrong knee-alignment).
  • Performing the move, is almost like sitting on a chair.
    • You make sure your hips and butt goes backwards, like sitting down.
    • You make sure that your knees don't go ahead of your feet.
    • You make sure the chest is kept forward; if you start to round your upper back, it's near impossible to get the weight up again, if you got a heavy load.
  • How low should you go ?
    • You should go so low, that your hips goes just below parallel, compared to the knees.
      • Some people says the top of your thighs has to be parallel with the floor, which is almost the same.
    • If you're not hitting parallel, you're only doing a partial squat, and not using the full Range of Motion (ROM), nor the full length of the muscles.

And to the women out there, afraid of getting too big and manly, lifting heavy weights; this is for you:
Borrowed from 2fit-2quit.tumblr.com

If you have any thoughts you'd like to share about this post, please do so in the comments.
I would especially love to hear from people who has relieved lower back pains using squats.

Next up will be the Bench Press, so stay tuned :)