“Meet Mr. Squat, the father of all exercises.” – Andrey Pilipets
A squat is an interesting exercise. Ask anyone ‘Do you know how to do a body-weight squat?’ and the answer is always ‘Yes’. Does it mean everyone know how to squat right? Well, let’s just say that squat is the first movement I teach all my new students.
My squat story is the one of Mayou, one of my students in Vietnam. Mayou is a cheerful British schoolteacher who loves good food, wine and shopping. Especially shopping. And a lot of small shops in Vietnam are located upstairs so you have to climb a staircase to get inside. Before we started our classes Mayou required other person’s help to visit such shops. I had to start our squats from putting a gym ball in a corner, sitting Mayou down on it, getting her to the right position and standing back up. Soon she was able to perform a regular squat. More importantly, in a couple of months she happily told me that the day before she went to one of her favourite shops and out of a sudden she could climb the stairs up and down all by herself. A small investment of time and money resulted in a huge change of her quality of life. Thank you Mayou for this wonderful experience.
“Your squat is the foundation of your healthy body.” – Andrey Pilipets
The squat is such a basic movement that you need it for almost everything. Metabolism, strength, posture, blood circulation, lower back, flexibility – the list of things that squat is great for can go on forever. Once you get the squat’s technique right, you open yourself up to a world of movements.
How to squat right
“The squat is the perfect analogy for life. It’s about standing back up after something heavy takes you down.” – Unknown
Let’s get your squat technique ready while standing, in four simple steps:
Step 1. Tie an imaginary belt (suck your tummy in).
Step 2. Put your shoulder blades together and look in front of you.
Step 3. Focus on your heels, imagine pressing them into the floor.
Step 4. Sit back as if you would on a toilet seat.
The result should be visible in the lowest position – a straight back and your knees in a green or at least yellow zone. When your knees stay right above your heels, you’re in the green zone and you’re doing great. If your knees move forward during your squat but don’t go out beyond your toes, you’re in the yellow zone. Focus on pressing your heels into the floor and sitting back.
Once you see your knees going forward beyond your toes, you’re in the red zone and need to adjust immediately – reduce the depth of your squat or switch to easier squat options. Now that you know the perfect form, move to where you’re going to squat.
Where to start
“Don’t have $100.00 shoes and a 10 cent Squat.” – Louie Simmons
I have put down 5 levels for you to start from ground zero. I highly recommend everyone to start from Level 1 to make sure you get your squat technique correct first.
Level 1. Chair squat. Sit down on a chair like you always do. Move your feet forward until your legs are perpendicular to the floor. That’s the green zone you can read above. Open your arms to put your shoulder blades together and look in front of you. Tie your imaginary belt to engage your core muscles. Lock your knees and stand up. Sit back on the chair. Do your chair squat to make sure you get your technique right. Get to the regular squat as soon as the chair squat feels easy.
Level 2. Regular squat. Same as the chair squat but no chair this time. Keep behaving like the chair is still there though. I have trained 300 people in 9 years and no one ever fell back doing a squat before. Just press your heels into the floor and sit back. Go as deep as possible. As you get more confident, lower your squat depth until your quads are parallel to the floor. Once you’re good there, move onto the next level. If you have knee issues, please stay on this level as the next levels put more pressure on your knees.
Level 3. Split squat aka stationary lunge. Only try this level if your knees can take it. Put one leg in front of the other. Try to put your back knee down. Use your phone, side mirror or ask someone to watch your front knee from the side. If your front knee goes out of the green zone, step your front leg further forward until you get the right distance. Please remember to change legs after several reps. Get to the next level as soon as it’s easy for you.
Level 4. Squat Kneel Down Up to Feet. What was I trying to say by that? Do a regular squat and reach the lowest position. Now put one knee on the floor right where your heel was. Follow up by the other knee. Bring the first knee back up. Then the other one. Stand up from the squat position. Keep your knees in the green zone all the time. Remember to switch legs. Move to the next level once it’s easy.
Level 5. Bulgarian squat. This big brother of split squat challenges your balance way more. You have to put your back foot on an elevation such as a chair or a sofa. Adjust to the right distance and put the back knee down almost touching the floor.
Be safe and keep progressing. Good luck!
Questions? Feedback? I love to hear from you!