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.