5 Steps to Follow for a Better Squat

By | October 7, 2020

Dr. Aaron Horschig, DPT, the expert behind Squat University wants everyone to have absolutely perfect squat form. He’s already shared how to nail the perfect squat stance based on your anatomy and how to fix hip shifts while squatting. For his latest YouTube video, he’s educating us on the five absolutely essential factors of good squat technique.

“No matter if you’re performing a bodyweight ‘air’ squat, back squat or front squat, good technique comes down to five absolutes,” says Dr. Horschig. These are:

  1. Optimal Toe Angle
  2. Sufficient Foot Stability
  3. Creating External Rotation Torque
  4. Hinging At The Hips
  5. Maintaining Postural Integrity

    He walks us through each one, sharing some extra context about what he finds the most important.

    Optimal Toe Angle
    “Most people have a slight toe-out position, about 7 to 12 degrees,” Horschig says. “That’s going to be where most people find the best range for performing that perfect squat and maintaining optimal alignment of their entire body.”

    Remember, this will be different for everyone. Make sure you find the most comfortable angle for you.

    Foot Stability
    “There are three parts of the foot that you want to maintain equal contact [with the floor] with the entire time: the base of the heel, the base of the first toe, and the base of the fifth toe,” says Dr. Horschig. He calls this position the Tripod Foot.

    To maintain this position, think about spreading your toes. This adjustment allows your foot to maintain more stability at the foot, which is then going to help the integrity of the rest of your squat.

    That said, if you wear narrow shoes that jam your toes together, your performance can take a hit. If you want to prioritize foot stability, you should squat barefoot or with shoes with a wide enough toe box to allow you to spread your toes.

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    Creating External Rotation Torque
    According to Horschig, you want your knees to do more than just bend. You want to allow for a slight amount of external rotation when you begin the eccentric portion of the movement.

    “By driving those knees out at the side slightly, we align our body in the most optimal manner for creating force that drives straight up and down,” says Dr. Horschig. “This turns on your lateral hips, which creates stability in the hip socket and allows us to maintain that integrity of the squat as your knees track in line with the third toe of your foot. Creating external rotation torque means I’m going to maintain my foot toe angle and foot stability tripod and drive my knees out to the side to align my lower extremities.”

    Importantly, you need to be sure that you don’t take the cue too far. You’re looking to create force, not full on external movement. If your feet start slipping out of place, you’re going too far.

    Hinging At The Hips
    “Every single squat, no matter what squat you’re doing, starts at the hips,” says Dr. Horschig. Make sure you keep this in mind, and don’t think about knee flexion as the end all be all of the movement.

    “A lot of people will drive their knees forward or they’ll drive the hips way too far back. We’re not balanced in this position. So it’s a proper hip hinge that drives the hips back and brings the chest forward.”

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    Postural Integrity
    “This is basically core stability and coordination,” says Dr. Horschig. “As you squat down, we want your spine to maintain that neutral, relative position. We don’t want it to bend or overextend.” Common mistakes would be allowing your back to round, or overextending to push your butt out more than necessary.

    “That is going to allow your back to stay as safe as possible and your body to stay in balance. And when your body is in balance, you’re able to produce efficient force and power.”

    When adding weight, the only thing that changes is your trunk angle, says Dr. Horschig.

    “Whenever we perform a body weight squat, your center of gravity is around your stomach. This center of gravity needs to be over your foot the entire squat. With a bodyweight squat, I’m going to have a more inclined trunk position,” says Dr. Horschig.

    This changes when you place a barbell on your body.

    “You all of a sudden put a load on a very concentrated part of your body and you pull that center of gravity up just a little bit higher toward your back. The only thing that’s going to change is my chest is going to be slightly more vertical than the body weight squat,” says Dr. Horschig. “Every single absolute applies, no matter what squat you’re doing.”

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