So many of us have difficulty squatting with good form. Evidently it’s a common problem, as a searching for ‘How can I learn to deep squat?’ returns a bewildering number of guides and tutorials available online to show you how to improve your squatting form.
It could even be argued that there’s too much information – and not all of it is good quality!
To save you the time in sifting the wheat from the chaff, I’ve done the research for you and distilled the process of achieving a deep squat with perfect form into a simple, effective daily drill.
So let’s get to it!
Permanently Fix Your Squat and Mobility Issues
I’m going to show you how to permanently fix your squat and mobility.
We’ll be focusing on hip and ankle mobility and detailing the most effective exercises to increase stability, range of motion and flexibility.
In fact, if you commit to our 30 day squat-fix challenge, I’m confident that you’ll enjoy significant and permanent improvements to your squat form.
But to get the results will require commitment.
There’s no mobility fairy who can magically improve your squat form and I’m afraid there’s no ‘weird trick’ that can instantly improve the depth of your squat.
So this squat-fix program is going to involve hard work and pushing against your comfort zone.
But remember this: the time is going to pass anyway. 30 days will soon be gone and you can either do this drill daily and reap significant (maybe even life-changing) rewards… or you can skip this and settle for mediocrity, or worse.
The choice is yours!
What Does Good Squat Form Look Like?
When you watch somebody with good-form squat, the movement looks fluid, comfortable and effortless – well, effortless for a squat!
If it’s a barbell back-squat, you’ll notice that the bar remains directly over the sole of the foot throughout the movement, while the back never folds forward more than around 45 degrees.
The squatter looks comfortable throughout the movement.
If you want to be able to squat like this, it’s vital to strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip and the ankle.
Improve Hip Strength
We’re going to look first at the hip.
Now, at this point you may be expecting me to recommend a ton of static stretches, so hopefully you will be delighted to learn that I have other ideas!
I don’t believe that static stretching of the hip is the best use of your time when it comes to improving squat form and developing a comfortable deep squat.
Rather than static stretches, we’re going to work on stability and strengthening exercises.
First off, we’re going to start with strengthening the hip flexors.
Believe me, effort invested in working on your hip flexors will yield fantastic returns – but only if you commit to a daily regime.
Daily effort in these exercises should lead to you being able to squat comfortably to at least 90 degrees within 30 to 60 days.
Standing Knee Lifts
You need to develop really strong hip flexors. Because of our sedentary lifestyles where we spend so much of the day sitting, our hip flexors are generally very very weak.
This simple exercise will address that weakness.
Stand up straight and hold on to a chair back for balance.
Lift your knee up as if marching.
Fight against the propensity for your knee to drift to the left or right. It must track straight up and down.
Also, do not allow your back to flex at all. Ensure it is your hip flexor doing ALL the work.
Try to get that knee as high as you can, as if aiming to get it to touch our chest – but do not let your back get involved in the movement.
Hold for a seconds at the top and then slowly lower it back down.
Repeat for 8 reps and then swap legs.
Ok, so now your hip flexors have been engaged and your glutes are warmed up and primed for some work.
At this point the glutes can now be engaged to their full potential. In the squat the main functions of the glutes are hip extension and external rotation.
For improved comfort when squatting up and down it’s important that the glutes are able to fullfuill the role they were designed for.
So now you’re going to do single leg glute bridges.
Single Leg Glute Bridge
Lie on the floor and hug one knee to the chest.
Drive through the heel of the other leg, extending the hip.
Do not arch the back.
To complete the bridge push the pelvis towards the ceiling and focus on the glute contraction.
Hold a squeeze in your glutes for 8 seconds at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position.
Repeat for 8 reps, before switching legs.
Strengthen your Core
This familiar core stability exercise that I’m going to share with you will increase your hip internal rotation.
The best thing about it, is that it doesn’t involve stretching.
How are we going to achieve this? By doing a set of side planks.
This will activate the muscles on the outside of your hip which, in turn, will help to stabilize your spine.
Why is that important?
Well, improved spine stability is going to allow your hips to move more freely, reducing the common sensation of tightness at the front of the hips.
Tightness at the front of the hips in familiar to anybody who spends a lot of the day sitting – which I’m guessing will be most people reading this article.
The Side Plank
If a full side plank is too advanced for you, then you can start by doing a half side plank.
Simply lie on your side with your legs bent and upper body raised at the shoulder directly above your elbow which is on the floor.
You can rest your free hand on your opposite shoulder so that your forearm is across your chest.
Now, raise your hips so that only your knee and arm support your bodyweight.
Hold this position for 8 seconds before returning to the starting positon. Do 8 reps either side.
As you get stronger, you can increase the number of reps and sets and even graduate to the full side plank.
Always take care to keep your shoulders, torso and upper leg in alignment when performing the full side plank, as this will avoid undue stress on the lower back..
So now, we’re in the perfect state to focus on hip rotation.
Most people don’t spend nearly enough time addressing their internal hip rotation.
We’ll start off on the floor so that we can gently open the hips without the stress of loading weight.
Seated Hip Rotations
Sitting with hands behind your shoulders and your knees bent at 90 degrees, feet shoulder width apart, allow the pelvis to rotate as you drop your knees to the right.
Once the knees have reached as close to the floor as they will go, return to the starting position.
Now drop your knees to the left, as far as they will go.
Return to the starting position.
That’s one rep. You should aim for 20 reps.
Resting Squat Rotations
For this next one, settle into as deep a squat as you can manage, keeping your heels flat on the floor.
If that’s not very deep, no worries, just squat as deep as you can and hold onto something in front of you for support.
Starting with your left leg, focus on your knee and try to rotate it outward while keeping your feet planted on the floor.
Hold and then rotate the left knee inwardly as far as you can, again, while keeping your feet planted.
Return to the starting position before repeating on the right side.
You should aim for at least 5 reps per side.
No we’re going to focus on the ankles.
Tightness in the calf and ankles is very common for most people.
I like to keep it simple when addressing ankle flexibility as well focusing on a drill that has a direct relation to the squat movement.
Calf Wall Stretches
This is quite a ballistic stretch, and one which you will be able to easily monitor your progress with.
Stand in front of a wall with your toes around 1½ inches from the wall. Keep your left foot planted in that poition but step your right foot back.
Now dip your left knee and attempt for it to touch the wall as it tracks directly over your foot.
You can bounce as you try this in order to get progressively deeper.
Repeat on your right side.
I would aim for 10-15 ‘bounces’ per set and 3 sets per side.
Do this everyday and you will rapidly find that your ankle flexibility improves, enabling you stand further away from the wall over time.
So now we can put all our new found mobility together and enjoy some slow and controlled bodyweight squats.
Go as deep as you can and hang out at the bottom for a few seconds before returning to your starting position.
If you can, do a few bodyweight squats throughout the day to keep your mobility increasing.
Squat Deep, Squat Pain Free!
So there you have it, a set of simple exercises which, if worked on every day, will lead to enormous improvements in your squat mobility and form.
It’s hard to believe that just 6 exercises done in sequence, performed daily, can transform your squat in as little as 30 days, but that’s the simple truth.
Now, if you try these exercises and find them too challenging, then I’d recommend trying this great program which is ideal for the beginner. It provides you with a quick 8 minute follow-along workout that will unlock your hips in no time at all!
Give this routine a try and let me know how you get on.