Why You Should Squat, Part 1 | Kirkland and Bellevue Personal Training

Squatting is one of the most useful of the “Primal Pattern” movements, as we use it on a daily basis.  Think about bodily movements that are critical for us in everyday life: pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, rotating, level changes.  The movements are considered ‘Functional Movements”, as life as we know it would cease to exist, and we’d all be wheelchair bound, without them! 

Consider what occurs when one watches a toddler try and pick up a small object from the ground:  They execute an almost flawless squat, and a deep one at that!  With their heels firmly planted on the floor, they lower down until their bottom almost touches the ground. With eyes intently focused on the tiny object in front of them, they then bend forward just slightly, picking up the tiny object ~ cheerio? ~ between thumb and forefinger.  Unfortunately, as most of us get older, sitting too much, inflexibility, accidents or injury, make it quite difficult for many to do a squat such as that little toddler!

Even the act of getting out a car, which we might do numerous times on any given day, consists of a single leg squat, lateral lunge, and a twist.  If you haven’t practiced squatting as part of your exercise regimen, this could be an accident waiting to happen!

Getting in and out of a chair is a basic squat, of a sorts.  If you have bad knees and have been told not to squat, know that it’s absolutely not true, as squatting is an exercise that uses all the muscles surrounding the knees, therefore strengthening them!

Pointers for a proper squat

1. Stand with your feet hip distance apart.

2. Inhale, draw your belly button into your spine.  With eyes on the horizon and chest up, keep feet firmly planted, initiating squat with your knees, not hips.

3. Take care to keep your back flat throughout the movement.  Don’t allow knees to travel inwards or outwards, instead keep them in line with the second toe on the foot.  

4. Push through the heels as you descend.  Very important as it engages the glutes!

5. If you have difficulty performing a free standing squat you can use any of these techniques:  put a chair or bench behind you for a safety net; use a dowel and hold on with one hand as you squat; hold on to a door frame or any non moveable object for support.

6. Once you are comfortable with the above techniques, but not quite ready for dumbbells or barbells, try this method:  Position a Swiss Ball just below the small of the back, up against a wall, then squat down.

7. To ascend out of the squat simply push through the heels and return to standing.

**A caveat:  It’s always helpful for a first time squatter to engage the services of a professional, in order to avoid injury!  Stay tuned for Part 2 ☺

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