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Get to Know Squat

A step-by-step guide to proper squatting technique.

5. POSITION THE BAR

It’s a given that the bar needs to be properly centered. Whether to place it high or low isn’t so obvious. If you go high, it’ll be against your traps at the top of your shoulders. If it’s low, it’ll be about two inches lower, resting on the top of your back. Traditionally, bodybuilders squat high-bar because this keeps you more upright and involves quads more. Powerlifters squat low-bar, which requires a greater forward lean. However, you need to find which style works best for your body type. Taller bodybuilders may need to hold the bar lower to get low. Also note that a low-bar position will allow you to squat 10 to 20% more by incorporating more force from the glutes and hamstrings. 

6. TIGHTEN UP

Squeeze your shoulder blades to tighten your upper back. Raise your chest up. Consciously doing this will keep your torso upright and stiff, which will in turn help you maintain proper form and keep the bar locked in place.

7. UNRACK IT

Raise the bar off the supports by standing straight, and then take a step backward with first one foot and then the other.

8. TAKE A STANCE

Try a shoulder-width stance. If you can’t stay reasonably upright and get to parallel, widen your stance slightly until you find the right position for you and your body type. Generally, if you have longer legs, you’ll need a wider stance. Your feet should be angled out at 30 degrees. This means if straight ahead is 12 o’clock, your right foot should be at 2 o’clock and the left one at 10 o’clock. And they should stay flat on the floor and unmoving throughout the set. 

9. FACE FORWARD

Some squatters look up to help them keep their torsos upright. Doing so is certainly superior to looking down. (Never do that with a bar on your back.) However, it’s best to look straight ahead. This is the safest position for your neck and the best way to keep your back tensed. The middle of a heavy set is no time to alter your form, so ignore mirrors after your warmup sets. Don’t close your eyes, but don’t let your reflection affect your form. To analyze your technique, have someone record your entire set from the side.

 

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