The squat is a movement frequently used in both our CrossFit and Strength and Core programmes. Adding weight to the squat is a great way to build full body strength, particularly in the Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings and Core muscles. However, we should be able to perform a good quality squat unweighted, before we add load.
Lack of mobility and body awareness are 2 of the main reasons we see people struggle to achieve a good squat. Other factors like poor glute and core strength will also cause you to squat poorly. To avoid injury, we need to get the basics right first, and take our time. Some of the cues you will hear your coaches use while you squat are “chest up”, “weight on the heels”, “knees out” “stay tight through the abdomen”. Using these cues will help you perform the squat more efficiently, but if there is an underlying issue there, it needs to be addressed.
The wall squat is a great tool to use to improve position, mobility, and awareness. It is a simple, yet challenging exercise that can be done easily, as it requires no equipment! So doing a couple of sets daily from home, will greatly improve your squat position.
How will I know if my squat needs to be improved?
Well if any of the following things are happening while you squat, then you should be utilising the wall squat:
– Chest falling forward
– Unable to get good depth
– Knees caving in
– Back pain when squatting
– Weight coming onto your toes/heels coming off the ground
– Unable to perform an overhead squat
The wall squat should be performed as a slow, controlled movement, keeping the abs and glutes fully engaged. Taking a big breath and holding it for the descent portion of the squat, will ensure you stay braced through your abdomen (breath out at the top of the movement). Keeping your knees out over your toes will keep your glutes engaged (if you’re knees fall in, you will need to think of pushing them out to the side).
The goal is to keep your arms fully locked out overhead (no bend in elbows!) and hands off the wall for the entire movement. You want to keep it quite challenging, so if you are too far away from the wall it will be too easy. Find the distance that’s right for you, mark it, and recheck it each week to see if you have made improvements. The closer you get to the wall, whilst keeping your hands off it, will show that mobility is improving.
Perform 4 sets of 8 reps with rest in between. Don’t force a really low bottom position starting out, it will come as mobility improves 🙂