What­ever your squat goals, tai­lor the move to your body

Un­doubt­edly an in­dis­pens­able move for those seek­ing pow­er­ful glutes and toned legs, the hum­ble squat now elic­its such en­thu­si­asm among ex­er­cis­ers that it’s be­ing butchered daily on gym floors ev­ery­where. Go deep, fol­low­ing our ex­pert guide, or you could be go­ing home in pain

If the form po­lice were real, they’d be launch­ing a ma­jor in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Gone would be the dough­nut so­journs – they would be far too busy watch­ing you and your fel­low ex­er­cis­ers squat. Why? The trend to­wards body-weight-fo­cused rou­tines and the rise of Cross­fit (few WODS es­chew the squat en­tirely) has seen the pop­u­lar­ity of the move soar; but al­though it looks easy, it’s not so sim­ple to ex­e­cute it cor­rectly. And while your in­ten­tions may be good, un­less you’re an ex-olympic lifter or the like, you’re prob­a­bly over­look­ing the un­der­ly­ing is­sue: that we’re all fol­low­ing mass in­struc­tion – but ev­ery­one squats dif­fer­ently. ‘Most PTS are taught a generic def­i­ni­tion for a proper squat, which they pass on to clients,’ says Sarah Lind­say, founder of Lon­don gym Roar Fit­ness. ‘But as you train more peo­ple, you re­alise that it’s un­re­al­is­tic – ac­tu­ally, im­pos­si­ble – for ev­ery­one’s squat to be and look the same. Un­like other foun­da­tional ex­er­cises (think plank, press-up or sit-up), the squat in­volves mul­ti­ple mus­cle groups and joints work­ing in var­i­ous planes of mo­tion. More specif­i­cally, your hips hinge back, your torso moves down and your knees shift for­ward and to the sides, so it’s quite the mul­ti­tasker. ‘When an ex­er­cise calls for such a va­ri­ety of move­ments, lots of fac­tors – from your anatomy to your mo­bil­ity – can af­fect the way your body squats prop­erly,’ says Lind­say. Of course, there are text­book rules for a rea­son – to max­imise the ef­fec­tive­ness of the move while keep­ing you safe from in­jury – and, for the most part, they’ll serve you well. But if you’re squat­ting heavy weights or per­form­ing the move at speed, it’s cru­cial you nail cor­rect tech­nique first. Guilty of squat­ting with­out guid­ance? Here’s what you need to make each drop work for you. And if it’s buns of steel you’re after, look no fur­ther than our 32-page butt-work­out sup­ple­ment by Carly Rowena.

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