Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Low Should You Squat?

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When it comes to squatting, most people do not go low enough. Therefore, they actually do not end up completing a full squat. Think of push-ups, for example-a lot of people shy away from going all the way down because, well, it's hard and challenging. The same goes for the squat. If you do it half-assed (no pun intended), then you will not get all of the benefits intended from doing a full squat.

By definition, a full squat is just below parallel, where the hip joint is lower than the knee joint. At the bottom of the squat, if you were to put a marble on your thigh, it should roll down towards your hip — not your knee. Some people can't complete full squats due to an injury or physical issue and that's totally okay. After all, not all hips and joints are the same. But, the truth is, many people do not go deep enough because they do not know any better.

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Not doing full squats doesn't just come with zero benefits-they can actually cause you injury and harm your joints! The popular myth is that squatting too deeply can harm your knee joints when in actuality, squatting deeply stabilizing the joints even more. A recent study published in the journal Sports Medicine  put a definitive ruling on the squat depth debate.It showed that the forces inside the ACL and PCL decrease the more the knee is bent, meaning the deeper you squat, the less pressure there is inside the knees  So, no worries there!

When you squat low, you work the entire glutes-not just part or some. Studies show the gluteus maximus is over 25 percent more engaged during deep squats than when squatting parallel! Deep squats also help maintain your lower body flexibility within your hips-something we all will need as we get older.

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With all of that being said, here is how you can squat a little bit lower to reap all of the wonderful benefits!
  1. Know Your Limits: Every single person is different with different body parts working in different ways. It is so important that you realize this before ever beginning squats. Some people just cannot squat-due to whatever reason! You may or may not be this person. If you are, then see how much you can actually do, but do not push your limits. Listen to and know your body first and foremost. Your body will lead the way and tell you everything you need to know!
  2. Check Your Form: Half of the time-kidding, most-people are doing it all wrong! Back hunched over, knees bent over toes, head down- big time no-no's! You can hurt yourself and do more harm than good to your body if you continue squatting with the wrong form. Here is an amazing little tip to help you improve your squat form in an instant!
  3. Take It Slow: Stop squatting so darn fast! I never understood why some folks squatted like they were in a race. Squatting too fast can hurt your body and make you perform the squat incorrectly since you aren't really engaging all of your muscles in a correct way. To go deep, go slow. Going slower also helps you check your form so you are more aware of your movements.
  4. Practice: Practice makes perfect. Keep trying until you get it. Go a bit lower and lower each day. You will get the hang of it!

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Photo Source: Lean It Up

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