Today I'm going to start a series of posts explaining HOW TO do various bodyweight exercises. You will learn how to position your body at the start, during and end of the exercise for maximum benefit. It doesn't matter how fast you can do an exercise if your form is crap. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS put form ahead of speed. Five perfect pushups are going to be 100 times more effective for body change than 25 crappy pushups. And the earlier you can get your technique right with the basic exercises, the easier it will be to do the more difficult or complex ones.
So, today, I'm going to start off with the SQUAT.
There are several variations of the squat, especially once you start adding equipment into the mix, but for now, we're going to stick with the basics and your own bodyweight.
1. Stand up straight with feet a bit wider than shoulder width apart. You want your toes angled outward slightly. Place your arms either straight ahead or hold them in close to your body.
2. To initiate the movement, you want to imagine you are about to sit in a chair. Unlock your hips and push them back slightly while bending your knees at the same time. You want these two joints working in unison, rather than independently, for optimal performance.
3. You want to ensure that your back stays straight. The easiest way to do this is to keep your chest up and looking straight ahead (this maintains a neutral spine and prevents stress on the back). The most important part is to ensure that your knees and toes are pointing the same direction throughout.
4. The best depth for a squat is the deepest YOUR mobility allows. Optimal squat depth would be your hips sinking below the knees (again, only if you can to do so comfortably).
5. Engage your core and, explode back up to standing by pushing up through heels.
6. For a little bonus tip, as you explode back up to the starting position, flick your eyes upwards (it makes you stronger!)
Common Mistakes To Stay Away From...
- Knees tracking inwards while toes are pointing forwards or slightly out - you can quick fix with a wider stance.
- Rounding your back - you can quick fix by ensuring you keep your head facing straight ahead.
- Leading with the knees - you can quick fix by using a chair for your first few squats. It helps you keep your hips and knees working together in unison.
Once you have mastered the bodyweight squat, it becomes super easy to start adding more difficult variations.
One of my favourites is the PRISONER SQUAT. You perform as above, however your hands are held up behind your head. Whilst holding them there, you focus on keeping your elbows pulled back. This will activate your upper back muscles (latissimus dorsi) and have them firing at the same time!
For an easier version or regression - use an actual chair. Practice sitting down, then standing up, sitting down, standing up. This will teach your brain that you are capable of squatting to the depth of your thighs being parallel to the ground and will get you practising the correct form before progressing to no chair.
I hope you enjoyed the first of many HOW TO BODYWEIGHT BASICS.
Please leave a comment below and let me know which exercise you'd like to see explained in detail so you can perform it better.