I’ve been involved in bodybuilding for a while now, and what I’ve found is that squatting is like marmite – you either love it or you hate it. For sure, there is no greater feeling for me than having a heavy leg workout and walking away (well, shuffling away!) feeling satisfied and truly exhausted. Heavy leg work really takes it out of you, and that’s what this game is all about.
For some though, squatting can hold fears – both rational and irrational – of getting stuck at the bottom with a loaded bar, being crushed by a weight which they simply can’t lift, and other accidents. Of course, like any other exercise, the squats are dangerous if performed incorrectly or irresponsibly, and it’s always advisable to squat in a specialist power/squat rack if training alone. But the main thing is the technique – and finding the right technique for you.
Squatting is certainly a game for a certain build of man. A man with short legs and a longer back can hit the bottom of a squat with an upright posture, which really gives them the squatting edge and helps to keep them balanced, and the weight on the quads. People of such builds tend to take to squats like a duck to water and it feels good and natural. For those of longer legs and shorter backs however, it can mean having to learn forward – sometimes ridiculously far forward – in order to retain balance. In such instances, squatting in the traditional way probably isn’t going to be the best nor safest way to work your quads. Facts have to be faced.
Squatting technique all comes down to how it feels for you. How comfortable you feel. There is no right and wrong in squatting. For some, simply adjusting the stance to a wider or shorter stance can make all the difference in both balance and strength. It’s important when squatting to always try to retain a flat back to distribute the weight of the bar evenly along the spine. Having the toes pointed outwards slightly, and the lower leg (shins) pointing vertical at all times – not dipping inward or outward too much – is the best way to squat, so you should always aim for this blueprint at least.
Taller squatters tend to balance far better using a wider stance, but if squatting really is a problem still, I recommend using a smith machine for squats, or the hack machine or leg press. Leg work is an essential part of bodybuilding, so it shouldn’t be missed out just because the ‘king of lower body exercises’ can’t be done as well as you’d like. Do what works for you, keeps you safe, and you feel good doing.