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The Squat: Neglected and Misunderstood

The squat is one of the 'big seven' exercises, up there with the push up, lunge, pull up/chin up, handstand push up, lower body rotation (floor to hanging) and the reverse crunch (floor to hanging). So why is it that so few people perform this exercise correctly or even use it at all?

The squat is NOT bad for you!

I have had many people tell me squatting is bad for them and that their doctor or their physio told them so. This is just nonsense and must have been a bit of bad professional advice.

It's an evolutionary posture...

If we were not able to squat through evolution (first as hunter gatherers and then as farmers after the agricultural revolution) how did we ever gather anything or plant and gather crops?

Travel to any third world country and people squat (thighs to calf, all the way to the ground) as easily as we sit on a chair, and they can do this whilst talking or eating.

... but bad advice on it is everywhere

I must have heard the following flawed coaching point over 10,000 times " must never squat below where your thighs are adjacent to the knees and parallel to the floor". Frankly this is a load of old rubbish unless you have an orthopaedic problem, disc bulge or other medical issue that prevents you from squatting any further.This flawed idea of the squat unfortunately appears to be a held by a big group of people who simply don’t understand the basic premise of human movement - and sadly many of them are masquerading as fitness professionals!

We have worked with thousands of people over the years and often the best squatters are those clients who have never worked with other trainers. They have a natural squat, as defined by millennia of evolutionary movement. However those clients who have worked with other trainers or have attended 'body pump' classes squat poorly, poking their bottom back like a maniac Donald Duck, desperately trading to avoid their knees moving beyond the front of their ankles. This takes a hell of a lot of dedication to learn as it’s such a ridiculous and unnatural movement to perform! The end result is a person in a state of total squat dysfunction and often pain.

So I hope we've got the message that squatting is actually good for us and essential (after good instruction and coaching). We advocate thighs to calf squatting and call this the 'Primal Squat'. If you have been squatting dysfunctionally for a while it will not be easy for you to regain this 'lost art' - but you can discover this most natural human movement again at almost any age.

Jeff says: If you're in the London area and want to know more about bodyweight exercise (also known as Calisthenics) then please come and see us for a free consultation!

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