The Squat: Mastering the Art of Squats for Strength and Performance

07 Dec, 2023 | By Unifying Expo

The Squat is not just about lifting weights; it's a transformative exercise that benefits athletes and everyday individuals alike. This article delves into the intricacies of the squat, a fundamental movement for enhancing sports performance, building thigh and buttock strength, and promoting overall well-being.

Benefits of Squats: More than Just Strength
The squat, a fundamental exercise for enhancing athletic prowess by toning the thighs and buttocks, boasts a commendably low injury risk when executed with precision. It stands as one of the most ubiquitous workouts in the fitness realm, doubling as an essential component of strength and conditioning across diverse disciplines and a benchmark for lower limb assessment. The advantages of this activity extend beyond athletes, significantly impacting everyday functionality by effectively engaging multiple muscle groups with a singular motion. Furthermore, the squat plays a pivotal role in clinical and rehabilitative contexts, aiding the recovery and fortification of lower limb muscles and connective tissues post-injury.

Squats: Correct Execution
The squat is a very complex multi-joint exercise that simultaneously involves the hip, knee, and ankle.

To perform a squat, you must start from a standing position, move into a squatting position, and then go back up. Put like this, it seems very simple, but, in reality, its correct execution requires attention to various details (most of which are also valid for free body squats).

Starting position
  • Standing position with knees extended
  • Feet spaced hip-width apart and well placed on the ground
  • tips pointing forward and slightly outwards
  • Head and gaze turned forward
  • barbell resting on the spines of the shoulder blades (or under the C7)
  • hands in a prone position and palms facing up and forward
  • The grip of the hands on the barbell is slightly wider than shoulder width (the width can, however, be varied based on scapular-humeral mobility)
  • shoulders adducted
  • Balanced barbell
Descent Phase
  • end your knees, hips, and ankle in a controlled manner until your upper thigh is parallel to the floor and at the height of your buttocks
  • Your knees should not go too far above your toes
  • Maintain the normal physiological curves of the spine throughout the entire range of movement
  • The scapulae always adducted and depressed
  • Head always facing forwards or possibly forwards/upwards (without hyper-extending the neck).
Choosing the correct depth when performing the squat can be important for activating certain muscles. Making a descent that is too short would lead to a prevalence of activation of the quadriceps, limiting performance and increasing the risk of injury.

Conversely, executing a deep squat can enhance motor coordination, fostering greater power and agility with increased knee and pelvis flexion, ultimately lowering the risk associated with quadriceps strain, as previously stated.

No scientific evidence supports the notion that squatting below parallel jeopardizes the integrity of collateral or cruciate ligaments. A properly executed squat may, in fact, bolster knee stability and mitigate injury risks.

A good depth would be to go down until the thigh is in a parallel position to the ground without suffering deviations or alterations on the knee, hip, or ankle. At maximum depth, the femur is brought slightly beyond parallel, the pelvis is backward, the tibias are positioned vertically, and the feet rest entirely on the ground.

Ascent phase
The ascent into the squat should follow the same dynamics as the descent phase in the opposite direction. The main “driver” in the concentric phase should be the pelvis, and the weight of the body should be carried on the heels and the lateral part of the foot.

The torso should remain rigid, and the shoulders and pelvis should rise at the same pace while maintaining their vertical distance constant. The inhalation should occur once the lift is completed.

The Squat represents far more than mere competition; it signifies a path toward increased strength, better stability, and an enhanced state of well-being. This fundamental exercise offers a low injury risk when executed correctly and holds numerous advantages, impacting everyday functionality and aiding in rehabilitation. Mastering proper form is crucial for maximizing its benefits and preventing injury.