How to Squat

Squatting is one of the most fundamental movements in human life. Think of how many times you do these movements during the day.
  • Getting up from a chair or couch
  • Picking something up off the ground
  • Getting out of a car
  • Getting out of bed
There’s more examples I’m sure, but that gives you an idea.

Since the squat is used so often in daily life, being able to do that motion is quite important for quality of life and independence as you get older.

That is why I regularly have my clients practice squatting. When done repeatedly, it’s a great strengthening exercise since it uses most of the larger muscles in the legs.

You may want to incorporate a set of squats into your workout routine, too. But before you do, you’ll want to watch the video below. It shows the common mistakes people make when squatting.

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Common Squatting Mistakes Explained

Bringing Knees Together

As you start moving upward, do your knees come together? They shouldn’t. The knee should line up between the hip and foot when viewed from the front.

Favoring One Leg

As you get up, do you feel yourself moving slightly to one side? Does it feel like there’s more weight on one leg than the other? Does one leg feel like it’s doing all the work?

This is pretty common with people who’ve had an injury or surgery on a hip, knee, or ankle. While the bad leg is healing, they shift more of the workload onto the good leg.

Unfortunately, this pattern becomes so engrained that they continue to squat this way even after the injured leg has healed. If you continue to do this, you’re always going to have one leg that’s weaker.

When squatting, try not to shift your weight. Try to feel like you have equal pressure on both feet and feel the muscles of both legs doing an equal amount of work.

Looking at the Floor

People who do this usually have trouble getting out of a chair, so they try to create some forward momentum by leaning their back forward and looking at the floor. Then, once they’re off the chair, all they have to do is straighten their back up.

Moving the head quickly from looking at the floor to looking straight ahead is dangerous because it throws off your sense of balance momentarily.

When getting out of a chair, it’s best to pick a spot out in front of you on a wall or other structure that is about four or five feet high and fix your eyes on it as you get up. Looking forward in this manner will ensure that your head is up and your torso doesn’t lean forward too far.

Feet Too Close Together

Wider objects are more stable. Squatting with your feet together gives you a narrow base of support and can result in a loss of balance. Get your feet about ten inches apart or more before you try to stand up. This is a simple fix and will result in much greater stability.

Plopping Down

This is one of my favorites. I always tell my students that I should not be able to hear them as they are sitting down.

When you are squatting for exercise, remember that you are strengthening your muscles both on the way up as you move against gravity, and on the way down, as you try to control your descent. Gravity wants to pull you down into that chair and make you PLOP. Try to resist it and set down gently.

Other Tips

You may be too weak in the legs to do the squat correctly from a chair. The good news is that you can improve your leg strength over time. For now, you can try the squat from your bed instead of from a chair. That will make it easier because the bed is higher. Or you could try the squat from a chair that has armrests and push off of the armrests as you get up. Over time, try to use your arms less and less.

Action Plan

Watch the video again if you need to, then go do some squats from a chair. Are you making any of the mistakes? You may even want to have someone watch you or do it in front of a mirror.

To strengthen your legs using the squat, you can do 1 or 2 sets of 8-15 squats 2 or 3 times per week. On top of that, try to think about your squat form every time you get up from a chair.

Moving With Mike

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