Hip Tips for Squatting
The squat is a huge exercise in strength training, but also for functionality for athletes. Performing a squat uses movement in the knee and hip joints, to generate power from the quadriceps and gluteal muscles, which are some of the biggest and generally speaking, strongest muscles in the body. As well as being integral to some core musculature, much of the movement and weight bearing during a squat, goes through the hip joint, which is vitally important to the chain of movement and support through the lower limb and the back and spine.
A common mentality, particularly amongst strength trainers, is to attempt to progress quickly through loading. However, when it comes to squats, it is far more beneficial to perfect your technique and use your squat as a catalyst for developing better functionality through the hip as a whole, rather than risk this by sacrificing form for weight. What I mean by this is, everyone is different. There are many variations of a squat and unless you are training specifically for weightlifting competition, the best variation for you, is the one that you can perform and perfect comfortably.
The main types of squat you’ll come across are:
Bodyweight squat (using no external weights, just your body)
Goblet squat (using a single dumbbell, held with both hands, central to the body)
Jumping squat (more sport or athlete specific to generate more power)
Barbell squat (with a plate loaded bar, focusing on power and or strength)
Perfect your form with a bodyweight-only squat first, locking down the key elements: your foot spacing (typically, shoulder width or slightly wider, toes pointed outwards) and depth of the squat (a tip for this is to use a marker, for example a chair). Remember that squat depth will affect the hip angle and loading on the knee joints, therefore difficulty!
For healthy hip joints, surrounding muscles need to be strong and flexible, the squat works not only the main power group, the Glutes, but also Adductors and Abductors, Hip flexors to ensure maximal functionality at one of the body’s most central working joints.
Your hips work to squat, so squat to work!