The Squat. One of the ‘big 3’ exercises (along with bench press and deadlift) and a great mass builder and overall physique enhancer. There are many variations of the squat (back squat, front squat, wide stance, narrow stance, etc.) but they all need to be done with proper form to avoid injury and get the most out of the movement.
Squatting is a natural human movement for thousands of years. The squatted position is how humans used to sit around a campfire and eat and how infants pick things up. Many cultures around the world still squat in their daily lives and those people have little to no instance of back disorders, which is an increasingly common problem in the U.S. Everyone can squat, provided there are no injuries or impairments. As infants humans squat constantly, but beginning at school age humans begin to spend increasing amounts of time sitting down. The seated position is, quite frankly, terrible for the spine. And after years of hours a day spent seated, lower back and knee problems can easily develop.
Myths and misconceptions
‘It’s bad for the knees to push over the toes.’
Not the case. In a natural (deep)squat position, the knee will naturally push past the toes. One easy way to see this is to go up or down stairs. Try to use stairs without your knees going past your toes. In a deep squat, the proper way to squat, the knees will naturally go past the toes. This is ok, that’s how the knee joint is designed to flex and extend.
‘Half squats are ok.’
Nope. A proper squat is lowering to the point that the hamstrings are covering the calves, while remaining as upright as possible. Mostly what you see in an average gym is half squats. This is for a few reasons. One is that people believe the above myth, the the knees are harmed in a deep squat. Another, and the more common reason, is ego. With many exercises, proper form is sacrificed for more weight. Always put range of motion before weight used.
Philip Schmieder via strengthsensei