The Squat is the absolute core to every Action Sports athlete’s program. It is the one exercise that recruits the most functional muscle in your body. It is a key exercise for balance, strength, proprioception, core strength and explosive power. At various points in the movement, the squat mimics riding position for motocross, mountain biking, BMX, jet-ski and motorcycle racing. It also has excellent benefits for skate, snow board, wakeboard and free ski. This exercise is also important for athletes like runners all the way to marathon and ultra marathon athletes.
The squat can be performed in many different ways (such as front squat), however the traditional base squat is what we will profile in this article along with an advanced variation known as the Bosu Ball squat.
How to Set Up for the Squat
The setup for the squat is very important. If the bar is in the wrong position on your upper back it can throw off your balance and muscle recruitment. With or without a pad around the bar (we always prefer no pad whenever possible), place it on your upper back in the middle of your trapezius muscles (the muscles below your neck). Walk away from the rack and place your feet about shoulder width apart while pointing your feet out slightly (this is a natural position for your feet).
Start: With your head up in a neutral position, tighten your abdominal muscles and rotate your pelvis back slightly to start your decent.
Midpoint: While descending under control shift your weight back like you are trying to sit on a chair. Do not allow your ankles to raise off the ground. If they are starting to raise, you are not pushing your butt back far enough.
Bottom: Most athletes we have coached do not go down far enough at the bottom. They think that when their leg reaches a 90 degree angle they are at the bottom, however, you need to go further down for maximum muscle fiber recruitment. The large bone in your leg called the femur must reach the 90 degree angle, which will drive your leg down further.
The Drive: From the bottom position, you are not just trying to stand up again, you are looking to recruit your leg, gluteal, back and abdominal muscles to drive your hips up and forward back to the start position. Your hip drive from being back in the bottom position all the way to the front as you return to the start position.
Note: Many athletes when learning the squat have a tendency to let their knees come together. This is a weakness in muscle training and extra concentration must be used to keep the knees aligned with the direction of the feet.
Muscles Used: Quadriceps (front of Leg), gluteal muscles (butt), adductors (inner thighs), spinal erectors (muscles in you back that attach to your spine), abdominals and pretty much every other muscle in the body!
Advanced Squats on Bosu Ball
To up your game and bring in more proprioception and balance, try performing your squats on a Bosu ball. Make sure you lighten the weight for safety reasons as this is an advanced technique that will help mimic the instability that is normal in most Action Sports.
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