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Improve Your Squat Form for Better Daily Performance

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Having an integrated training program with focus on mobility & flexibility on a weekly basis is what really changed the game for me. I went from long strength & weight lifting days to cardio burnout while wondering why I was experiencing intense joint pain, extreme burnout & lack of progress week over week. When I started to prioritize my body first through weekly mobility & flexibility training, it was able to perform 10x better not only in my workouts, but in my activities of daily living, without pain and discomfort.

An integrated training program includes the following components of exercise that are pieced together in a weekly routine:

- Mobility

- Flexibility

- Strength/Resistance

- Cardio

Let’s for the record say you already know the differences between strength/resistance and cardio training as well as their benefits on the body, so let’s zoom in on these two most often missed areas of training:

MOBILITY- the ability for a joint to move through a specific range of motion. Mobility training is often missed in workout routines & without this area of training, joint pain and muscle imbalances may occur due to lack of joint range of motion & stress on the body from other areas of training or repetitive movement patterns.

FLEXIBILITY- a muscles ability to lengthen. Think of this as the elongating of a muscle, it’s elasticity. This seems like such a foundational area of training, but it also so often missed or skipped over in workouts. Even 5 mins of daily stretching can do wonders for you muscles both in and out of the gym.

The more you incorporate integrated training (without leaving any of these areas of training out) in your weekly exercise routine, the less pain & stiffness you’ll have, increased energy & ability to engage in activities that bring you joy…for years ahead!

Now, let's chat about your squat. Your squat shows more than how deep you can go or how much weight you can push! The squat is one of the most foundational exercises along with others that can show us (fitness professionals) how the body is coming together to produce movement & where a client's muscle imbalances lie. Anyone & everyone has muscle imbalances based on your exercise experience, daily lifestyle (ex. sedentary, laborious) and repetitive movement patterns, such as typing, bending up and down, or doing the same workouts over and over, etc.

Muscle imbalances occur when a certain muscles or muscle groups takes over for weaker, under-active muscles, in an exercise to produce movement. Think of the overactive muscles as the ones that are taking over the exercise, while the under-active muscles are those that aren't pulling their weight. For example, muscle imbalances within your squat form could include feet turning out, arching the low back, heels coming off the ground or knees caving in, the compensation we will specifically discuss later on.

Let's start with your warm up. No matter what time of day you're doing your workout, your body has likely been in a sedentary position or engaging in repetitive movement patterns for hours leading up to it. So your warmup is a key time to release some of that stiffness, move the joints through full range of motion, and correct some of those muscle imbalances, specifically within your squat as we discussed above. I know it's called a warmup, but don't let the name alone make you feel like you have to be sweating, panting, and nearly exhausted before getting into your workout. Having targeted warmups and cool downs centered around corrective exercise to target your muscle imbalances will increase the effectiveness of your workout, support you in activities of daily living, and have you feel better during and after your workout.

You can start with opening up your warmups and cool downs with specific exercises to release & lengthen the overactive muscles as well as strengthen the under-active ones. This is called corrective exercise training, which target muscle imbalances to support enhanced movement patterns. A component of corrective exercise training is self-myofascial release or foam rolling, which is a great technique to release built up muscle tension on those known, overactive muscles, to lengthen them before you get into your workout.

Knees caving in squat

Now, lets specifically discuss the compensation of knees caving in during your squat. If your knees are caving in like this, when you do your squats or single leg exercises, there are some muscle imbalances that you're going to want to address.

Here are some of the exercises I would recommend to a client. After I see this in a movement assessment for my one-on-one clients. I would add these recommended exercises directly into their warmups, cool downs, and mobility day.

For this example of the knees caving in, I would have them foam roll, the adductors and the TFL. I would also add in some static stretches for the internal rotators in the hamstrings, as well as the TFL, as these muscles are proving to be overactive when the body is producing movement. Releasing and stretching these muscle groups ahead of your workout will allow them to be less dominant when the body is producing movement.

single leg squat form progress

Moving into our strengthening exercises, we want to target the muscle groups that are proving to be under-active or not pulling their weight when the body is producing movement. With our example of the knees caving in, we want to focus on strengthening the glutes as well as our external rotators in the hamstring and quad complex.

Adding in exercises such as lateral band walks, mini band glute marches, lying abductions, glute bridges with the resistance band and ball squat or standard squat with a resistance band are all going to support strengthening these areas. Performing your strengthening exercises as well as your static stretches and foam rolling several times per week will support enhanced movement patterns over time and leave you feeling better in and out of your workout.

Here are a few real client examples showing their drastic improvements in their movement patterns in as little as three months up to one year of this targeted corrective exercise training.

If you're noticing similar compensations in your squat form that may be inhibiting your performance, results & quality of life, I recommend performing a fitness assessment with a personal trainer/fitness professional before tackling some of these exercises noted in this post. This will allow you to best understand what your specific compensations are and have a strategic action plan to target your muscle imbalances based on your lifestyle.

We can do this together in 2 ways! 1. If you already have a fitness routine that you enjoy & maintain, schedule an Assessment & Results call to do your movement assessment 1:1 with me. After your assessment, you'll receive feedback as well as specific exercises for you to take with you into your warm ups, cool downs and mobility day to address your current movement patterns.

2. If you have a current routine, but lack an integrated training regimen including mobility and flexibility OR you are seeking to get started in building a consistent routine around your exercise, check out getting started with The Movement Membership. Consider the GROW tier, which includes a monthly 1:1 accountability call with me in addition to all of the workouts inside the membership.

Alternatively, if you're seeking a specific 1:1 personal training program tailored to you, schedule a consultation with me to get started and determine the plan best for you!

Always cheering you on & supporting you in building an exercise routine you can maintain, enjoy & achieves your goals! Comment below with any questions on this topic!


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