Oct 7, 2019
By Ellie Romsloe, Certified Trainer
Squats (and deadlifts) get a bad name. This makes me sad for a number of reasons. There is no movement so basic and useful as a squat. It's something we do every day, though it might not be with a kettlebell in our hand or a barbell on our back. The most basic definition of a squat is simultaneous hip and knee flexion in order to lower the bum toward the ground while keeping the chest up.
Sounds a lot like sitting down, right? Duh.
Every time you sit down at your desk, to the dinner table, you are doing a squat (or you should be). The manner in which people young and old alike tend to sit down in a chair is appalling to me. There is usually a slow lowering of maybe a few inches, and then a flop of unwavering trust that the seat will not break.
This isn’t good for your furniture. It’s not good for you either. Then, getting up usually involves an equally uncoordinated heave and some kind of pressing up from the arms of the chair.
Listen: Your Body was built to squat. You just forgot how. I want you to let go of all those preconceived notions you have about so-and-so’s bad knees or pulled back. An exercise doesn’t hurt you. Bad form hurts you.
Try this: While sitting in a chair, inch yourself forward, plant your feet firmly on the ground, underneath your thighs. Your knees should be as far apart as is comfortable for you and this is different for everyone. Sit up nice and tall and hinge forward from the hip until you start to feel the weight on your feet. Stand Up. Can you do it?
Now, sit down, with a controlled movement, as if you knew you had to stand right back up again. Lower the bum close enough to the chair to touch it. I call these “KMA’s” Kiss My Ass because that’s exactly what I want your bum to do to the chair. Just a quick kiss and stand back up. Could you lower your bum without collapsing? Could you stand back up again without heaving your weight forward?
Congratulations, you did a squat.
Now do that every time you sit down and stand up.
You can also add weight to this and keep the chair for security if it makes you feel better. You can start to use lower chairs and work on increasing range of motion. If you couldn’t do this exercise, I suggest putting the chair in front of a rail, or grab a friend and hold their hands for support. By holding onto something, you are reducing your bodyweight and your legs should be able to squat you up and down smoothly. Keep practicing until you no longer need the support.
Weight training is invaluable as a tool for teaching us how to navigate real life so we don’t injure ourselves. You don’t need to squat 2 times your bodyweight to reap the results of squatting. Just practicing the motion in good form so it becomes second nature is a big step in lower body strength.
About Author: Ellie focuses on customized programming with an emphasis on posture and alignment to help her clients meet their health and fitness goals. "I am known for being a stickler when it comes to form and I want you to pay attention to what you’re feeling, building awareness of your whole body as you move." Learn more about Ellie at https://www.trainwithellie.com/. Experience: NASM CPT, FNS, CES and TRX 1
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