REAL STRENGTH SERIES: SHOULD YOU BE SQUATTING? HOW TO SET UP THE SQUAT…

May 4, 2019

The squat is a functional movement that our bodies naturally begin to develop from infancy. Unfortunately, some individuals begin to regress in this movement over time and now struggle to perform it properly. It is one of the foundational bilateral movements we use here at LIFT to build strength in the lower body and core. It’s rare for us to complete a training session with a client without having them perform some variation of a squat at least once. Let’s address the nuances of this essential movement in more depth..

We need 2 things; mobility and stability throughout the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine. As discussed in week 1 of the Real Strength Series, a neutral spine is required to perform this movement. Click here if you haven’t already read our blog on core training as it will be imperative to squat properly.

Whether your goals are to build muscle, lose fat, or gain strength; the squat is, hands-down, one of the best exercises you can incorporate into your routine.

Today we are going to look at mobility requirements and the squat set up.

SQUAT MOBILITY

To assess the squat fully, we like to use the overhead squat assessment. It gives us a solid idea of the  areas preventing you from squatting properly due to lack of mobility.

First, we look at the ankles. Are you able to travel over the toes without the heels coming off the floor? If not, we may program some kneeling ankle mobility drills such as the examples below. If your feet and ankles aren’t functioning properly you may experience a breakdown of movement or instability of joints in the future.

Next, we look at the hips. Are you mobile enough to sink back into the hole while keeping the knees in line with the toes? If not, we tend to prescribe hip mobility and stability exercises to get those hip muscles firing properly.

Continuing up the body, the thoracic spine comes into play. Is it able to extend and keep the chest upright throughout the movement? If not, we will see the chest pointing more towards the ground instead of forward. Many times the lats tend to be tight, making it hard for the T-spine to extend.

THE SQUAT SET-UP

For the sake of this blog and the corresponding video we are using the back squat as our frame of reference when describing the squat set-up because it is the most commonly used squat variation. Let’s dive into the set up.

  1. “Meet the groove in the smooth.” By this, we mean place your hands where the rough and smooth parts of the bar meet. Some people with longer arms or tighter lats/shoulders may need to slide their hand out just a bit more.

  2. Pull the bar down tight. We want to ensure you securely have the bar on the upper trap area. To secure it fully, don’t be afraid to pull it down into that muscle belly. Think about pulling the elbows down and tightening the lats.

  3. Unrack. Bring the hips under the bar, stand up, and firmly take one step back. Be sure to clear the rack.

  4. Brace. Inhale through the nose, brace the core, and start the descent. Sit down and back at the same time maintain the neutral spine.

  5. Drive Up. Staying braced, drive up through the feet. Stand tall at the top with an even tightness of the core and glutes.

Coming up on the next blog, releasing later this week, will be the following:

Progressions of the Squat at LIFT

Hacking the squat – Exercise we use at LIFT to improve your squat.

Be sure to tune back in so you can continue to master the squat. Here at LIFT our team is committed to making you the best LIFTER you can be while delivering time saving, and results driven training sessions.

LIFT Hard. LIFT Smart. Get LIFTED.

What People Are Saying About Lift Chicago

  • Positive: Professionalism ,  Quality I started attending the women’s lifting class and absolutely love it! It’s exciting, fun and welcoming for all different ability levels!

    Lainie Augensen Avatar Lainie Augensen

    Finished my first ten days of training here and truly impressed. The four trainers I alternated between were all very attentive and friendly. Paid attention to my goals and paced... read more

    Alexis Youn Avatar Alexis Youn

    I’ve been training at Lift since it opened, and with Pete prior to. Everyone here is always extremely professional and so very nice. They may not know it, but they... read more

    Jenny Gariepy Avatar Jenny Gariepy
  • I’ve been training at Lift for almost 2 years and have gained so much confidence in my lifting and strength. Every trainer is approachable and knowledgeable, making for a very... read more

    Mary Harbaugh Avatar Mary Harbaugh

    I’ve been training at Lift for a year and a half - the workout, professionalism, facilities and trainers are the best of the best. Strength training at Lift has transformed... read more

    Alexi Zloof Avatar Alexi Zloof

    The trainers are extremely helpful, creating programs tailored to each individuals need. They have created an atmosphere that is inviting and fun!

    Isaac Wolfe Avatar Isaac Wolfe
  • It’s always been difficult to get into a steady routine and stay motivated, until I started training at LIFT seven months ago with Coach Isaac. Not only do I... read more

    Gabriel Garcia Avatar Gabriel Garcia

    Great workout for busy professionals. Simply the best !

    Chris Santiago Avatar Chris Santiago

    Positive: Communication ,  Professionalism ,  Quality

    The Wheelands Avatar The Wheelands
  • I have always been a very active person but I have seen the biggest difference in both my strength and physique since working out at Lift. I’ve been to many... read more

    Alison Avatar Alison

    Hands down best gym for power lifters, strong men, body builders. Equipment is top notch and it’s very clean and well maintained.

    Katie Cunningham Avatar Katie Cunningham

    Lift is an amazing place! The trainers are knowledgeable and the workouts are tough. Being a runner, I was constantly getting injured. Lift has strengthened me overall and worked on... read more

    Anne Scranton Avatar Anne Scranton
  • I also love the open gym and the equipment. They are constantly adding new things to make the best experience for their customers!

    Juana Fermin Avatar Juana Fermin

    I have trained with the guys at Lift for a long time and consider my sessions to be some of my best long-term investments. My workouts there are sustainable, enjoyable... read more

    Brigid Sweeney Avatar Brigid Sweeney

    I've been working with Abby 3 days a week since October 2021, and it's probably not too much of a stretch to say I'm in love with her.

    In all seriousness,... read more

    Ryan Carter Avatar Ryan Carter
  • I've been training with Sarah for two years and she has been amazing to work with! Both locations are clean and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. I highly... read more

    Kathryn Sugrue Avatar Kathryn Sugrue

    It has been challenging for me to find the motivation to workout since the beginning of the pandemic. Lift has helped me to get back into a routine in a... read more

    Stephanie Garcia Avatar Stephanie Garcia

    Great coaching in an excellent facility.

    Rick Sudekum Avatar Rick Sudekum
  • Lift Chicago is a fantastic full-service gym. The trainers are knowledgable and motivating, the facility is clean and bright, and they take all steps to insure health and safety. As... read more

    Margaret Berg Avatar Margaret Berg

    I love going to Lift in Lincoln Park! I've been doing personal training with Abby twice a week for 45 minutes each for about 8 months. I like that they... read more

    Christine Kim Avatar Christine Kim

    I recently joined Lift ~2 months ago and it's been an incredible experience! Whether you're a beginner (like me) or seasoned pro, this gym caters to all. Victoria, my coach,... read more

    Lauren Dicken Avatar Lauren Dicken
  • The whole staff there is great. You cannot go wrong training with any of them. Plus, it is super clean. I feel complete safe going there with COVID-19.

    Timothy McAlister Avatar Timothy McAlister

    I recently found Lift on Yelp like a month ago and I’m absolutely loving it. I workout with Sam, Isaac and Kyle and they’re amazing. I’m looking forward to continuing... read more

    Mandy Jo Walker Avatar Mandy Jo Walker

    Highly recommended. If you want a personalized, thorough, concise workout this is it. Each personal trainer is excellent for listening to your fitness goals, celebrates your achievements and accommodates any... read more

    Kristine Kinder Avatar Kristine Kinder