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The squat is a foundational exercise when it comes to strength training. Unfortunately, if not done correctly, you can end up with injuries, muscle imbalance, and loss of flexibility. One issue that often arises is your hip movement. Why shouldn’t you thrust your hips forward too far at the end of the squat or deadlift? What are the potential risks of doing this, and how might it harm your training?

The short answer is this: It’s about keeping your spine rigid and aligned throughout the full movement. Thrusting your hips forward at the end of the exercise takes your spine out of alignment and reduces the productive work on muscle mass. The forward thrust movement creates an arch in your back, breaking the plane of your spine and making your movement inefficient and ineffective. It’s all about the angles.

Squat Mechanics

How do you keep your spine rigid and aligned? According to Starting Strength (the method in which I coach my clients), and contrary to popular opinion, the squat utilizes a non-vertical back and neck angle (generally accomplished by fixing your gaze at a natural point on the floor in front of you.) Your squat should be a hip-dominant movement, and this is only accomplished with the correct back angle. Keep the angle of your hip flexion the same as the back angle to keep the spine rigid, and your back an efficient conveyor of force.

In short,

  • Use your hips when you squat. This involves a more horizontal back angle than you are probably used to using.
  •  Keep your spine rigid, and aligned, not necessarily vertical.
  • The angle of hip flexion has to equal your back angle to keep your spine rigid and the components working together correctly.
  • An easy way to ensure correct angle is to point chest at the floor or utilize your natural gaze at a point on the floor.
  • Don’t look up. You are just fighting the correct angle.
  • As you come out of the squat, drive your hips up while maintaining the proper angle until about halfway up, then simply stand up straight.

Interested in learning more?  Barbell strength training provides you with the most efficient way to gain strength, lose fat, and increase your conditioning. Focused on just 5 exercises, you can work the body’s most muscle mass at one time per exercise, using your body as the beautiful system it was created to be. Sign up for your personalized fitness coaching utilizing the Starting Strength method.

Kenneth Rippetoe

Kenneth is a Life-time member of the American Swimming Coaches Association and holds certifications as a Level 4 Disability Coach & Level 3 USA Swimming as well as US Masters Coach. Coaching since 1985, Kenneth specializes in Swimming, Strength and Conditioning coaching.

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