OCF Movement Academy: Squats You Need to Know

The Squat. 

The staple movement for lower body pushing. 

Unless you have an injury, we definitely think that some form of squatting should be a part of your training program. 

With so many options out there we wanted to give you the squats you should know and in order from simplest to the most complex 

Before we get into that lets talk stance.

We believe that everyone is built different, has different left to right symmetry, as well as different mobility restrictions and ranges of motion.

In a perfect world, we would all squat toes straight, knees track over toes, heels down, and chest upright. Feet would be just outside of your shoulders. 

But that’s not life.

Check with a coach if you’d like to see if how you are squatting is the most effective for you. 

No reason to just guess. 

Squat #1 – Air Squat 

The air squat refers to squatting without any weight.  If you cannot perform this movement properly you should NOT move onto others. 

Take your time and get this right. 

Points of Performance 

  1. Send the hips back and down descending to the bottom of your squat with the crease of the hip below the knees.
  2. Keep the knees tracking out over the toes
  3. Maintain the balance of weight over your entire foot
  4. Keep the arch in the lower back by lifting the chest for a good lumbar curve in the spine
  5. When hip crease breaks the plane of the knees in depth, drive through the heels to ascend back to your starting position
  6. The rep is completed when the knees and hips are fully locked out and open

Tip & Tricks

  1. It’s all about posture and NOT depth.  Good posture and position over time will help you get deeper.  Poor posture will lead to a poor squat for life. 

Squat #2 – – 

This is the first introduction to an additional weight to your squat.  

The “Goblet” may be a dumbbell, kettlebell, or even a can of soup.  All that matters is that you are keeping the weight tight and close to your body. 

Points of Performance 

  1. All for the Air Squat plus 
  2. Resisting the weight from pulling you forward or the weight pulling away from your body.  The tighter and closer the weight is the more control you will have over it. 

Squat #3 – Back Squat 

Congratulations you have graduated to squatting with a barbell. 

Let’s talk about barbell placement here first. 

We are assuming that you are using the squat to improve leg strength, as well as transfer over to other movements in the sport of fitness.  So we recommend the high bar back squat. 

The grip should be standard clean grip.  

Place the barbell on your shoulders and traps NOT your neck. 

Points of performance 

  1. All of the Air Squat plus 
  2. Resisting the weight from pushing you forward while you are performing the squat. The better you can breathe and brace with your belly the better you will be able to maintain good posture and resistance to the load while you are squatting.  We recommend a big breath in pushing all of your belly out (including the backside), right before performing a rep, once you descend to the bottom blow the air out to return to your standing position. 

Tips & Tricks 

  1. Having a firm grip on the bar and pulling your elbows together behind your back will result in a tight upper back and translate into a tighter lower back

Squat #4 – Front Squat 

Now we are getting to the most transferrable squat we see in the sport of fitness.  The front squat transfers over to the clean, thrusters, and wall balls.

The biggest difference between the front squat and the other squats you’ve performed by now is the front rack.

The front rack refers to the position the bar rests on your shoulders and upper chest, with your elbows are high to create a “rack” position.  

For most athletes, this can be a difficult position at first. First, it can be uncomfortable. Try to relax when starting and it will get better over time.

Another key to the front rack is mobility.  Tight lats, shoulders, upper back, and arms can lead to a poor front rack that causes more strain than it’s worth.  Mobilize all those parts with a foam roller to help develop a secure front rack. 

Points of performance 

  1. All of the Air Squat plus 
  2. Send your hips back and down while keeping your chest up and elbows high
  3. Only go as deep as you can keep good posture and position. 

Tips & Tricks

  1. Don’t allow the elbows to drop at any point
  2. Keeping your elbows up is not only going to maintain your lumbar curve for safety but it will help you stay back on your heels

Squat #5 – Overhead Squat 

The toughest squat in our series. 

This squat requires mobility, stability, balance, and coordination. 

Take your time mastering the other squats before jumping right into the OHS.

Use this as an assessment to see how your squat really is. 

First, let’s talk grip. 

Perform a pass through with a PVC and ensure arms can go behind you.  This is key for safety if you need to bail out the back of the squat due to losing balance. 

Points of Performance 

  1. All of Air Squat plus 
  2. The bar is held 6-8’’ overhead with the arms extended over the center of the body, hands are wide.
  3. Ensure shoulders are externally rotated and the wrist turned slightly back. 

Tips and Tricks 

  1. Press “up” against the bar when you are squatting 
  2. Go Slow and feel the movement 
  3. Do not allow the bar to move horizontally while you are squatting. 

There you have it! 

5 squats plus a progression for your squatting goals. 

Now it’s time for the most important thing,  GET TO WORK! 

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