The squat is one of the most quintessential exercises out there. When it comes to maintaining mobility, stability, sports performance, size and all around strength, it's hard to find an exercise that has all the benefits of the squat. With all the benefits of the squat, it's important to ensure we're doing it right to correct the false narrative about "squats are bad for your knees." They're not bad for your knees, having weak muscles in your legs is bad for your knees. Let's dive in.Setting UpWhen you go to squat, your feet should not be super close together. Some professional powerlifters go really wide in their stance, making it a "sumo" squat position, but even that is a variation on the traditional proper squat technique. Your feet should be slightly outside of your hips and angled slightly away from the centerline of your body. The reason behind this is that our legs don't come straight down from our hips, but rather come down at an inward sloping angle. We need to offset that angle, hence the wider stance. In addition to offsetting the angle, we're also more stable the wider we are. There is a trade-off between stability and strength though, so for many, going too wide will diminish their ability to squat heavier weights.
The MotionWhile the squat is primarily being done at the knee, it doesn't mean your hips should stay dormant through the movement. Pushing your hips back like you're super proud of that booty engages the glutes and hamstrings which help stabilize on the way down as well as help prevent poor posture throughout the movement. Push those hips back, then allow the knees to bend until your hip crease is parallel to the floor. This is the proper depth for the squat in competition. Performing the "required" range of motion helps ensure that you keep mobility well throughout your life. As you're descending, don't let your knees come in front of your toes. This indicates a weight shift from your heels to your toes and can seriously injure your knees and back. Drive through the heels and keep your head neutral, neither looking up or down. Eyes straight ahead.