First thing, if you work with a personal trainer, make sure they teach you the proper way to squat.
The squat is the king of all exercises, yet over the years this exercise has gotten a bad reputation in large part because so many personal trainers do not know how to teach clients the proper way to squat. Some people have suffered injuries, major and minor, as a result of this ignorance, while countless others have avoided performing – and properly teaching – this incredibly effective exercise.
It’s understandable that fitness consumers are confused and do not know the proper way to learn the squat, but there is no excuse for any personal trainer to not know how to teach the squat. If you are at all serious about building strength you need to learn how to do squats properly.
Before your personal trainer can teach you how to squat, they have to know how to squat. When you see your trainer perform a rock-solid body-weight squat this creates an indelible impression that helps you learn the exercise. If your trainer can’t perform a proper body-weight squat he isn’t ready to train clients.
Personal trainers who squat properly can teach properly because they are familiar with – and can anticipate – all of the possible problems you might experience, and be able to make the necessary corrections to your form. Just as great piano teachers are great piano players, great personal trainers and strength coaches are great squatters.
Does your trainer follow this progression for teaching squats?
- Demonstrate body-weight squat
- Have client attempt squat
- Teach reverse lunge
- Teach split squat
If you are able to squat properly right away you will improve your fitness level quickly. However, you still need to perform the exercises in the progression, properly and regularly. The squat is a complex movement and your trainer needs to make sure you do not develop bad habits that will lead to bad form.
If you struggle with squats, you need to do split squats and reverse lunges, as these exercises will develop the strength and balance that will help improve your squat technique. The leg press, Smith machine, leg extension and leg curl machine – or any machines – do not have a place in this squat progression. Most machines do not belong in any progression, but that’s another story for another time. Suffice to say if you are spending time on these machines, you may want to have a talk with your trainer.
If you have difficulty performing squats, you should be doing sets with fewer repetitions. For a person who can’t squat, high repetitions provide the opportunity to perform more, “bad” reps. Quality over quantity is important when learning the proper way to squat.
If you aren’t working with a trainer you can still learn how to squat effectively and take advantage of the benefits offered by this great exercise.