Fitness industry has gifted the planet some of the most aesthetic and strong bodies. While in the past it was a necessity to be fit, it has become more of a fashion statement now. Remember, we evolved as hunters and gatherers; the very need of survival made the ancient mankind extremely fit. Talking about the present world, flaunting those washboard abs armored around with some well built muscle is the superior trend. Somehow, the whole genesis is followed by the need to look good rather than being actually fit and healthy inside out. While that definitely improves the health and fitness, availability of things that activate our happy hormones is the sniper that can blow our heads off if abused. Well, that was just to give you an insight of the transition in the world of health and fitness. Let’s get started ;)
Dumbbells, barbells and machines, this is the everyday story of at least 95% of the people reading this. If not, you would have just skipped right after reading the caption of this article. I am somebody who loves taking the intensity of my training to absolute next level each time I show up in the gym. While pursuing a successful career in the fitness industry, I have met people of all kinds. The biggest learning that came across my way was to stick to the basics. Bench press, deadlifts and squats are the exact fundamentals I believe every single person who desires to be strong and fit should practice.
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As the caption says, you are going to read about the king of all leg exercises, SQUATS. One of the compound exercises that is essential to maintain fit - even if that meant reducing your body fat%..Surprisingly if you have noticed, everybody has a particular way of squatting. Is there really a standard way to squat?
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How much should your trunk lean forward while squatting?
It depends on the length of your femur bone with respect to the torso. If the femur bone is longer than your torso, your trunk will have a considerable forward lean to maintain it’s center of mass. If the femur bone is shorter, the lean will be comparatively lesser. See the picture below for a better understanding. The trick is to have an understanding of our body and then determine if the squat qualifies to be a squat or not. There is no set rule in terms of the angle that our torso should make with our femur to qualify as a perfect squat
It also depends on how much dorsiflexion can be done at ankle joint. Restricted ankle dorsiflexion mobility will lead to greater forward leaning squatting posture.
High bar vs Low bar SQUAT !
If you are someone who does a high bar squat (placing the bar right at the mid of your upper traps) the trunk lean will be less compared to someone doing a low bar squat (placing the bar right between the rear deltoid and traps). While low bar squat does help you to squat heavier compared to a high bar squat as the hamstring activation is more, the pressure on your spinal erectors is more compared to a high bar squat. The more vertical you are, the less pressure on spinal erectors. Which is better? Whichever you get strong at. See the image below for a better understanding.
How to get stronger at squatting?
Do you train your glutes? If not, you have probably underestimated the strength and functionality of your glute muscles. The glute muscles can generate immense force but it has to be trained regularly to get the functional benefits of gluteal muscle strength. Hip thrusts are the perfect way to train your glutes. Let us understand why glute strength influences our squat.
Squat is a double flexion and double extension movement. There is flexion and extension at both the hip and knee joints. Once you squat down, to get up back with the load the force generation has to happen at two points: 1. Heel and 2. Glutes. If your glute muscles are strong, the central nervous system activates them much better and assists with your squat. Hence if you progressively work on developing the strength of your glutes, no doubt the squat will improve
Front or back squats. Which is better?
See the below infographic by The Strength and conditioning research:
This research concludes that the overall muscle activation in both the variations are similar, just a slight difference in terms of the activation of quadriceps and hamstrings. Front squats works slightly more on the quadriceps whereas back squats works the hamstrings slightly more.
Contributor: Melvin Cherian - http://getsetgo.fitness/#/public/coachprofile/melvin