Hi guys,  Kris from Custom Fitness here, your Amarillo nutritionist and personal trainer. Today we’re going to be wrapping up the two part series on taking the pain out of squats. Now be sure to read part one if you haven’t already. And as always, if you have any questions about today’s blog then please give us a call at (806)-322-3188

All right, so the first step is building off that bench. Starting in that sit to stand, and working through that. The second step is that knee tracking I was talking about. It’s really important for your knees to follow your toes, because if you’re sitting down and your knees start to do this as you stand, or this, you don’t have strength and support. Think about a column on a building is built straight up and down to support that building, right? If it was built at an angle it wouldn’t have the same level of support. So we’ve got to make sure that everything is built straight. So as we’re squatting, we’re going to make sure that our knees are going straight over our toes, whatever position our toes are in. If your toes are forward or if they’re out to the side or wherever they’re at, we’ve got to make sure that the knees are going straight over.

As we’ve said, one of the big problems that I run into is where people are standing, they’ll sit, they’ll stand and their knees come together just like that. To fix that, what I like to do is take either a small ball or a towel, or a pillow if you’re at home, something small enough that you can fit right above your knees, in your thighs, and you’re just going to squeeze it in. Typically, you want that to be something that’s wide enough that brings your feet into hip width apart, okay? You’ve got to have something that’s kind of rolled up a little bit, that you can put in between your legs, and, again, a towel, a small pillow, any of that kind of stuff would work.

All right, so the purpose of the idea is as we come down and then we stand, we’re able to keep our knees tracking directly over our toes the whole time. We keep the weight back in our heels, our toes are light, they can wiggle. And we learn how to squat, building muscle patterns so that the knees know which direction to stay in. Our muscles are awesome, they have a great set of memory cells within them that allow them to remember movement patterns and to be able to enhance those movement patterns over time. If you’re teaching your body to keep the knees in the right spot with a prop like this, then you’ll be able to build that skill over time, where eventually whenever you take the ball out then your brain says, “Okay, remember to keep the knees in that same position.” Right? And even better, if you’re squeezing something you’re now engaging the inner thighs, which is going to help a little bit too.

All right, so then number three is to modify the depth of your squat. Because, again, like I said, a lot of people are going all the way down, they’re taking it so deep that their hips start to tuck underneath them and then they’re bringing it back up and they can’t figure out why the knees hurt and their back hurts and all these things. So if we sort of modify that depth. When I squat, as I go way down, yes, I can push the hips back but if I’m not training this is going to have a tendency to go forward into the toes.

So what we want to do is we want to make sure that as we go down that our hips are going back, that our stomach is in strong, and that our tailbone stays in the same direction the whole time. Whether you’re reaching out in front, as I was showing you, or if you’ve got a bar on your back, or whatever you’re doing, as you’re going down the chest stays up but those hips still never tuck under, okay? You take it to your depth.

If you’re just starting out with this, arms in front is easiest, because you’re able to counterbalance. If your hips are going behind you and you’re not used to that, your arms out in front is going to be something going forward, right? As we go here, we’re able to keep the body in a better balance situation so it’s going to help you out a little bit. Just make sure that, again, the hips are going first. We would go into a half squat, and then we can get into a full squat, hopefully at that 90 degree is eventually where we’re going, but again, new squats, keep those arms out in front. If not, you can go hands behind the head, on the bar, in front of you, whatever works, okay?

All right. Then number four is to modify the load. We all think squat, we think we’ve got to load it up really heavy, I’ve got to get under that rack. You really don’t have to, we can go a lot lighter and really still feel a lot of good things, okay? If you’re looking to intensify your squat without adding more weight, number one, you could use bands, right? We could easily stand on a band, hold it up basically like a front squat, and be able to take it down that way. Bands are a little less damaging to the joints because gravity’s not pulling just in one direction, so you’re able to work with the elasticity of the bands and that makes them a lot easier on the joints, a lot nicer to work with over time in heavier weights.

You could take your normal weights that you have and instead of holding them down here you could add in a modified shoulder load. Now, we don’t want the elbows touching because we want that tummy to have to work. If you’re here and you start to squat you’re going to feel not only the legs activate but also your core, which is great, right? You’ve got to get a little bit more core work, always want that. Then, second step from that would be if this is not quite enough, take them up overhead. Same thing, we squat and come right back up. As we’re doing that we’re challenging the core, we’re challenging more systems in the body. You’re going to get a better workout because you’re multitasking, basically, and asking the body to do more things.

I hope that those suggestions help you to take the pain out of your squat. Remember, the core always has to be locked in to protect that back, and remember that you’ve got to be up tall as much as you can. But just use those, don’t be afraid to use those because they’re modifications, but instead use them to build from where you’re at now to where you want to be. And if we can be of help to you, we are an entire team of professionals who do this on a regular basis. We take people in, we assess to see where they’re starting from, find out what they need to work on, where their weaknesses are at, where their imbalances are at, and then we create programs around that. Programs include fitness, nutrition, lifestyle modification, all of it together, so that this becomes a long term health and wellness solution for you, rather than a short term weight-loss solution for you. Your body can lose weight through the process, absolutely, but we want to teach people how to keep that off for a lifetime and how to build the muscle that they need underneath to be healthy and well.

If we can be of help to you, feel free to give us a call, 806-322-3188 or email us at info@customfitness.biz We’d love to talk with you. Have a great day.