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How to Squat - Squat Set - Up and Technique!

Thoughtful Thursday : Squat Set Up and Technique

Hey guys! What is going on??? So excited to be able to chat with you guys today via this blog post about how to set up for a squat in the weight room! This is the first post in a mini series we are doing about strength training for runners and triathletes. The goal with this mini series is to teach you about the importance of strength training and also show you how to perform these various lifts safely and how to implement them into your training plan in order to improve your power, speed, and efficiency, all the while preventing injury! Let’s get into it!

Why in the world do I need to do squats???

Guys the squat is one of my favorite exercises to perform for so many reasons. Its super functional, which means it’s a movement we do on a DAILY BASIS! It also involves multiple muscle groups which allows us to be efficient when we are in the weight room because we are hitting most of our big muscle groups with one exercise. It’s also great because it helps us recruit our hip muscles which as runners and triathletes we are typically not very good at! So with that being said, let’s get into how to set up for a squat and the proper technique for doing it safely.

Squat Set Up

If you’ve never seen a squat rack before, here is what it looks like.

When you get to the squat rack you want to walk under the bar, position it on the back of your neck. Then grip the bar with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart with a closed over hand grip. Next, lift your elbows to create a shelf on the top of your shoulders for the bar to rest on. Next, you’ll stand up, take a few steps back and you are ready to perform your first squat.

Performing the squat

Now it’s time to perform the squat.

First make sure your feet are about shoulder width apart with your toes pointing slightly out. This allows you to have a little more motion in the hips and helps recruit some of your intrinsic hip muscles during the squat.

Then take a deep breath and as you exhale pull your belly button in toward your spine. (sounds kinda weird right?) The reason for this is that it helps activate your abdominals and helps you achieve a good posture that is beneficial for the squat. When doing the squat we want our back to be nice and straight, not extended, not flexed. This breathing helps us achieve this neutral position in our back and helps us prevent injury during the squat.

Next, we start to actually squat. Start by sticking your butt back like you are going to sit down in a chair. Slowly lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel with the floor.

From there, push with your butt and thighs and return to the standing position. When standing back up from a squat think about trying to push the floor apart with your feet and push your knees out. This motion helps activate your glutes and prevents too much stress on the inside of your knees.

Continue this sequence for however many squats you are doing. Then walk back forward and slowly lower the bar back onto the rack.

How often should I do the squat?

In my opinion the squat is a staple exercise that should be done in some capacity every time you are in the weight room. My general recommendation for runners and triathletes is to lift 1-2 times per week. I typically perform 2-3 sets of the squat with 8-10 repetitions per set with 60-90 seconds rest in between. As far as how much weight you should do, this is how I approach it. I want you to feel the fatigue with the last 1-2 reps of each set. If you are unsure how much weight you can do, I would start on the light side so that you don’t do too much and injure yourself due to poor form or from getting “stuck” at the bottom of a squat. As runners and triathletes the goal of weight training is to supplement your training and prevent injury, not to max out your squat. So when performing lifts, start light. You can always progress as needed and as you get more comfortable with the lifts.

The first few times you lift you will probably be sore in places you may have never been sore before. This is normal and will decrease with time. Just like with running, lifting is a new skill and our body requires time to get used to it, so be patient and give your body time to adjust.

Well guys, that does it for this edition of Thoughtful Thursday! Be sure to check out the technique Tuesday video on squat technique at the link here:

For the 5 dynamic warm up exercises for runners click here:

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Until next time,


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