Master This Movement For A Stronger You

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Have you ever seen someone start to sit down, maybe an easy chair or sofa, something kind of “cushy”, and about half way through the process of sitting down, the person sort “falls” or collapses onto the seat all at once?

This movement pattern is often associated with “older” people but, when you know to look for this, you might see it more often than you expect and not just in “older” people either. I’ve seen this pattern in 30 and 40 year olds.

Losing control of the sitting down motion is a sign of muscle weakness in the hips and legs. And weakness in these areas can turn into a lot of problems later in life.

How to Squat

Get the proper movement down before you try adding much weight to the movement. The extra weight will showcase your deficits in form and can lead to injury. Master the “air” squat first.

Before you start though, there’s a preliminary procedure – bracing.

Bracing is tightening the core muscles just a little bit. An easy way to learn how to brace is to light a candle, hold it out in front of you and then try to blow the flame out. The muscle action in your abdomen, what you use to blow out the flame, is the same as bracing. You just tighten up the abdominal muscles – like you’re about to get punched in the stomach.

  1. Stand tall and look straight ahead with your feet about shoulder width apart and feet angled out  slightly.squatform
  2. Increase the curve in your lower back as much as possible by tilting your pelvis forward then tilt it the other way as much as possible. Now, find the mid-point of that motion and use bracing to hold it there.
  3. Brace tightly and keep it that way.
  4. Sit down by moving your butt back and down (think of your ear moving straight down to the floor – you won’t be able to actually move straight down but it will help prevent bending forward to soon).
  5. Keep the trunk straight.
  6. Keep your knees tracking over an imaginary line extending out from the foot.
  7. Knees should not roll inside of the foot.
  8. Keep pressure on the heels.
  9. Lift your arms forward as your body moves down.
  10. Keep the lumbar curve throughout the squat. Do not allow your lower back to bend.
  11. Stop when your knee is at a 90 degree angle.
  12. Begin the ascent by tightening the gluteal muscles and pushing through the feet as if you’re pushing the floor down and away.
  13. Stand up all the way.
  14. Perform slowly, with control, counting the number of repetitions. Stop when you begin to lose control or feel fatigued. Note the number of repetitions. The goal is at least 30 repetitions in one minute.

If you can’t control the motion all the way down and back up, place a couple of pillows in the chair to decrease the range of motion.

Who Can Do This?

You must be able to withstand at least gravity level forces – your body weight – through your trunk and lower extremities. If you hurt doing this movement, it’s not for you. And, if you increase the speed of motion, you’ll quickly exceed body weight (gravity) force.

Common Movement Faults

  1. Allowing the lower back to flex or round.
  2. Allowing the knees to move too far inward.
  3. Bending over too much at the hips.
  4. Allowing the heels to come off the floor.
  5. Not standing all the way back up.

You may be tempted to skip over the basics above because they seem to simple or, well, basic. But, try the sequence first and see how many proper squats you can perform in a minute. If you hit 30 squats, great. Time to move on. If not, spend some time getting this foundation in place first before you move on to adding weight or increasing speed.

If you would like to find out how strong your lower body is relative to your calendar age, just sign up for the ActiveAge™ Blueprint. Lower body strength is one of seven performance categories we test in the ActiveAge Blueprint: balance, flexibility/mobility, upper body strength, lower body strength, core endurance, cardio, and overall health risk. Take all seven assessments and you get your over all ActiveAge.

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