My Nerdy Take On the Squat

My Nerdy Take on the Squat


I always recommend the book  “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe when people ask for a book about coaching.  The book itself is pretty ridiculous since it goes IN-DEPTH (50-70 pages per lift) and covers squat, press, bench press, deadlift, clean and snatch.  I’ve also grown and learned much more since I read the book ,and I teach many things differently and sometimes contrary to the book.  However, the general principles in the book still apply.

The following are some big picture concepts I gathered from the book and my experience coaching.  Hopefully, these provide value to you whether it is for your own coaching ability or just your overall performance in the squat.  I’m referring to squatting specifically but these principles apply to all movement:

  • A proper squat requires:
    • Balance over your center of gravity
    • Recruitment of requisite muscle groups that form the squat
      • Weaknesses are almost always found in the posterior chain or core
    • Loading the muscle groups in the correct sequence
      • If you shoot your knees forward first (example 1 to the right) there’s nothing you can do from that position to preform a proper squat.  You loaded into your quads/hip flexors first (out of sequence).
  • Squatting without the three components above will lead to injury, inefficiency of movement and hinder your longterm improvement/health
    • The goal isn’t to avoid stress on your joints.  You should strive to balance the stress on your joints (in this case anterior/posterior) so they cancel out
  • Not squatting (what many “health providers” recommend) will lead to atrophy and a whole new (often worse) set of problems
  • Either way the optimum solution is to figure out why you can’t do a proper squat and fix it
  • You’ll be able to INCREASE your load doing a strength cycle with an IMPROPER squat.  However, you’re also more likely to get hurt and your strength improvement will be limited because you are not proportionately recruiting all the requisite muscle groups the way they were meant to be used.
    • You are being THE person that chases short term gratification for long term setbacks.  You can only kick the can down the road for so long.
  • PS Hopefully from this article you can see how some common coaching tips out there such as “weight in your heels” or “wiggle your toes” is wrong.  Also, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if your knees are FORWARD of your toes.


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To your potential,