If you do a Google search for 'squat form' you will find hundreds, maybe thousands of articles detailing how to squat with supposedly perfect form. I could nitpick, or point out what I like in one, or dislike in another, but it wouldn't be very useful. I just have one question: How can someone tell you how to squat perfectly, when they've never seen you? More questions: Do they know that you've carried a baby on your right hip for 3 out of the past 4 years? Do they know that you were in a serious accident and have a metal rod in both of your legs? Do they know that you perform most of your job duties turned to one side of your body? All of these questions describe people I work with on a daily basis. Their bodies, and history of movement are unique like a snowflake. The only way to squat perfectly, is to test it every time you squat. How to Test How and why to test movement using biofeedback is not the purpose of this article. Check out the links to get up to speed. How to Test Movement & Why Test Your Movement. What to Test I think that eventually you should explore dozens of squat variations. For now, I'm going to give you a few starting points. Here are the squat variations to test out:
- Goblet Squat
- Back Squat
- Front Squat
- Zercher Squat
- Stagger Stance - Instead of placing your feet symmetrically, bring one foot back or forward slightly. A third of a shoe length is usually enough, but play around with the amount. Hint: if you often stand in a certain position, like women who carry a baby on the hip, then start in either that position or the opposite of that position.
- Box Squat - If hip mobility or strength is limited, squatting without a reference point can be too stressful. Place a box behind you, and adjust the height until you find the lowest point that tests well.
- Heel Lift - For many people, ankle mobility is a limitation. Place something under your heel to lift it up. I find a 2.5lb plate is often enough (about 1/4" thick) but sometimes more is needed. The most I generally ever use is a 2.5lb bumper plate that is about 1" thick.
- Rotation - Test some degree of rotation of the upper body in the squat. This is particularly easy and effective with a Goblet or Zercher squat, or a Front Squat with kettlebells. People who have jobs that involve a significant amount of rotating to one side, or who play sports with a clear bias to one direction of rotation can benefit tremendously from rotation in squatting.