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What You Need to Know About Barbell Squats

Posted by Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES on 20 September 2017
What You Need to Know About Barbell Squats

Many strength and conditioning coaches will tell you that a weightlifting routine is pointless without squats.

It's a sentiment that airs on the side of hyperbole, but there's no denying the powerful, full-body lift's benefits towards your overall strength and posture.

How to NOT Barbell Squat

If there's one pitfall of squats, it's the squatter's inability to do them properly.

Many simply lack flexibility and mobility, only performing half or quarter squats. While it's the least detrimental way to incorrectly squat, you won't be reaping the upsides offered by reaching full depth.

Others will sink into a full squat, but a lack of ankle dorsiflexion, range of motion, and gluteal strength, leads to their knees caving inwards. This can result in injury, and long-term postural and joint problems.

Watch the video below to prevent your knees from caving in while squatting:

How to Build up to a Barbell Squat

Breaking down how to do a perfect barbell squat is so technical, it requires its own blog. But before you even consider the movement, you must possess the flexibility.

Hip flexors are essential to correct squat form, but are universally tight because we sit down all day, placing our hips in a contracted (flexed) position. When a muscle contracts, it shortens, and the more it shortens, the tighter it gets. Therefore, we need to lengthen our hips with stretches in order to obtain optimal hip flexion and mobility.

The unsung psoas muscle connects your upper and lower body, and is the foundation of an aligned spine. Crucial to a barbell squat, it is deep within your body, and its tense surrounding muscles make the psoas hard to train, or even stretch. It's essential to your squat and general athletic performance to consciously contract your psoas muscle.

Watch the video below for a helpful psoas-strengthening exercise:

A Full Body Blast

Squats primarily build your quad muscles, but also activate your glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors, abdominals, oblique, and calves. It triggers progressive overload, which means you're training with a sufficient level of intensity to stimulate muscle growth and fat burning.

What if I'm an Endurance Athlete?

While endurance athletes (particularly runners) shouldn't be performing squats a week before running a triathlon or marathon, two days of weekly squat training is integral for peak performance.

The ability to produce quick, forceful muscle contractions helps maintain efficient form, while aiding in injury prevention. A lack of strength in runners often leads to a sloppy gait, causing injuries and strain from overuse.

A runner absorbs 2.9 times their bodyweight in force per stride. Squats for endurance runners will provide the strength needed to handle such a load.


Performing barbell squats is more complex than going from a read-up to gym-ready. So, let SEMI's professional fitness trainers in Toronto devise a workout routine that'll help you achieve your fitness goals.

Join us in our modern studio settings and take advantage of the private environment, so you can focus entirely on your exercises with zero distractions.

Call us at 1-855-572-9177, or book an appointment today!

Author: Douglas W. Stoddard MD, M Sp Med, Dip Sport Med, ES
About: Dr. Douglas Stoddard is a sports medicine physician and is the Medical Director of the Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute (SEMI). After receiving his medical degree from the University of Toronto, he trained in Australia at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, obtaining his Master Degree in Sports Medicine. He is also a diplomat of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine and has his focussed practice designation in Sport Medicine from the Ontario Medical Association. Dr. Stoddard is a consultant to the Canadian Military and has consulted with well over 30,000 unique patients in his career. Dr. Stoddard is constantly searching for new and promising therapies to help SEMI patients, and is responsible for developing the RegenerVate Medical Injection Therapy Program. He is married and the proud father of two boys, is an avid triathlete and occasional guitar player.
Tags: Lower body Upper body Performance

 

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