Back to Basics Squats

Whether your goal is to improve your performance or your body composition, squats are essential to reach your fitness goals.

The Squat is a functional and foundational exercise that strengthens and develops your quadricep, gluteus, hamstrings and the muscles of your core, lower legs and even your feet. They are a fantastic exercise that helps you achieve, leaner and stronger legs, a perkier behind and a flatter belly.

Everyone who wants  a healthier and stronger body should  add Squats into their program. From professional athletes to novice exercisers , the squat is a key element of any strength and fat loss-oriented program. It doesn’t matter what your fitness goals is, squats improve your strength, build lean muscle, improve your performance and increase fat loss – squats are on your side.

I love squats  and  they are by far one of the very best exercises anyone can do! There are several squatting variations you can into your routine. From Back squats, Front squats, Goblet squats, Pistol Squats, Box Squats and Plyo Squats. But before you add these variations you need to master the most basic and simple Squat Variation – a Bodyweight Squat.

As important as it is to add this movement into our routine, it’s most important to learn how to perform a proper squat. It can be quite challenging to master this fundamental movement.

It’s also important to add that everyone looks different when they squat. We all have different builds, leverage, movement and injury history.

During this week’s video I discuss how to start squatting, the proper squat form and effective ways to fix the squat. Watch the squat tutorial here !

There are several reasons why you can’t squat properly, from tight hips, lack of mobility in your ankles, weak glutes and knees and even lack of core strength. Regardless of your fitness levels or mobility restrictions you can still add Squats into your regimen by applying the techniques taught in the video tutorial. I highly recommend mastering the Box Squat, the Bodyweight Squat and the Goblet Squat before adding Back and Front Squats into your workouts.

Here is the proper squat form:

  1. Feet a bit wider than shoulder width
  2. Brace your core
  3. Push your hips back and sit down 
  4. Drive your knees out 
  5. Knee should align with toes
  6. Ideally Your Hips Break Parallel With Your Knees
  7. Back Should Be Flat – no rounding. Always go as low as you can without rounding your back! 
  8. Maintain core and gluteus tension 
  9. Drive through your heels to push back to starting position 
  10. Contract your glutes at the top 

You may have heard that performing  full squats (squatting past parallel) is bad for your knees. But in reality full squats are completely safe and not bad for you.  But squatting with bad form is bad for you!

When I was an athlete I had various coaches with different approaches towards the squats–one would not let me go beyond parallel but would make me perform extremely heavy squats, and another coach would only want to do squats with lighter to medium loads. They both made me stronger, but I have to say I suffered less knee and back pain when I was performing deep squats!

One mistake I would not want for you to do is to compromise your form for depth. Only squat as low as you can while keeping a natural arch in the back.

Let’s go over common mistakes to avoid during the Squat:

  1. Raising heels off the ground – often a sign of lack of ankle mobility. Instead elevate your heels by using small weight plates. 
  2. Rounding the Back 
  3. Knees caving in – lack of gluteus activation. Wrap a mini band around the knees to help you activate your glutes and push your knees outwards. 
  4. Leaning forward – add Goblet Squats 
  5. Not engaging your core muscles – your core muscles are essential in stabilizing your spine during your squats. 
  6. Loading the movement pattern before mastering the basics –  Master the box squat and bodyweight squat before adding weights.

Other mistakes:

Performing squat jumps. Pliometrics are a progression to a proper squat. I do not recommend adding squat jumps (unless you do  box squat jumps after mastering the weighted box squats) until you can perform 15 proper Goblet Squats.

Before adding explosive movements, it’s very important to master the basics and have stronger and healthier joints.

I will be sharing more helpful tips during this Back-to-Basics series that will help you improve your squats. From mobility exercises  and stretches to help you improve your squats and squat variations, to help you get one step closer to your fitness goals and getting sustainable results.

Remember to watch the full video tutorial here! .

All my best,


Idalis Velazquez

Idalis is a wife, proud mom of three girls and an internationally recognized and trusted fitness & lifestyle expert. She is a Beachbody Super Trainer, a bilingual Fitness Influencer and Fitness and Wellness content creator for publications like Women’s Health Magazine, Men’s Health, GQ Magazine and others. She is also a Nordictrack and an iFit International trainer.

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