Fitness

The Road to a Deep Squat and Flexibility

August 11, 2015

Hi all,

Sometimes the strangest things inspire you, this morning reorganizing an old box of photos, I´ve seen one of the pictures of when I was 2 years old, in a perfect and natural squat position. In this pictures I was playing with toy cars, not wondering about posture, control, nor flexibility, but it´s impressive how natural and easy it is for a small child to stay in this position. So here I present you all the right components of a deep double-legged squat in one picture:

 

squats tore2

The squat is one of our basic movements that represent the most useful exercise that we can do when it comes to strength training. Squats are one of the most fundamental and functional movements in our lives. We squat everyday, everywhere. We’ve been squatting since we were babies. As we get older and sit in unnatural positions all day, sometimes for hours in front of a computer, our squat form goes from perfect to us not knowing how to squat correctly at all. Your 2 year old nephew or son can for sure squat better than you and me.

For a good, deep and effective squat we don´t need only knees extension and flexion. flexibility, balance, control, and strength are also equally important

Sometimes it looks hard to train legs only with our natural weight, but believe me, there are many ways to do it in an effective way with advanced exercises like single-leg squats. Today I will start showing you some examples of how to arrive doing this safely and how to improve squatting and balance in a step-by-step way, so you can manage the deep squat and eventually the pistol squat, also called a single-leg squat.

I will be back on this topic, with detailed explanations and more advanced exercises later. The second part to this squat series will include rules and tips on how to improve this natural and fantastic movement. For today, we will focus on deep double-legged squat position and the moves to improve your flexibility in order to get there.

The best way is training slowly and with patience, always preferring more quality than quantity. In this way you will improve gradually, and most importantly, safely. Depending on your starting point, the two legged full squat could also be a bit challenging. In this case, you should work on getting comfortable with that before moving on to single-leg strength exercises like pistol squats.

 Let´s start with the basic position: the deep squat

DSC_0613 copy 

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles. Roll the shoulders back, down, and away from the ears. It’s important to maintain the chest open during all the movement. Initiate the movement by inhaling and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back. Keep lowering the hips backwards as the knees begin to bend. Your knee joints should be pointing in the same direction as your feet at all times. Sit back and down while keeping your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward. When you will be completely down it will be very important to keep the back straight as much as you can with both feet in complete and stable contact with the ground (not on your toes!!).

 basic squat 2

If you feel uncomfortable or unstable it might be that you need to work on the flexibility of your back legs and hips. In this case, some exercises, like the combination that I will show you below, would be the first step towards success. I also use such exercises during my trainings to warm up and cool down Feel free to use them also before or after your training routine. Enjoy!!

Starting with both feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, both hands on flexed knees, inhale and try to fix the legs and the hips without moving them, exhale and go down with the shoulder in the direction of the opposite knee.

 Side Stretch

With both hands on the ground in the space between the feet, open the arm on one side, alternating sides, inhale up with the arm and exhale going down, try to follow with the eyes the hands movement, imagine one line from one hand to the opposite one going up, open the chest and remember to breathe. Alternate sides a few times, holding for 5 seconds in each side.

 hands up bet legs

 

Open more the space between the feet. Alternating sides, inhale with both arms and hands aligned horizontally to the shoulders. Exhale, going down with the back of the hand in the direction of the opposite foot, with fixed legs and hips, arms aligned vertically to the shoulders. Hold for 20 seconds in each side.

 hands opp legs

Start with the spine in a neutral position, both hands aligned to the shoulders and in contact on the ground. Imagine two parallel lines going through the hands, knees and toes. Inhale, and as you begin to exhale, gently pull your belly button towards your spine. Repeat a few times.

cat

The downward facing dog is one of the most famous yoga poses. It looks like an upside down V. Start in all fours and on an exhale, push the floor and lift the hips to get into the down dog pose. Keep arms and shoulders engaged so that no arching or rounding the back happens. Keep the knees slightly bent to lengthen the spine, taking the hips up and away from the body. If possible, straighten the legs, while maintaining the length in the spine. The weight should be equally supported by upper and lower body. Hold the pose for five breathes.

downwarddog

Imagine one straight line, aligning the arm up with the shoulder and the hand in contact on the ground, breath in and completely open the chest. Exhale and go under the opposite side of the body with hand and arm. This is a good exercise for the low back mobility, shoulders and chest flexibility. Hold for a couple of seconds and repeat alternating sides five times.

armssidelow

Starting with the hands in contact with the knees and the feet suspended. Inhale rolling back with a round spine and pushing the belly in the direction of the back. Exhale rolling back up and trying not to touch the ground with the feet.

rollinglikeaball

With one hand in contact with the toes, foot or leg (depending on flexibility) open the chest with both arms completely open and aligned. Hold for 20 seconds and alternate sides.

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Sitting with both arms aligned in front with the shoulders and parallel to ground and legs, inhale and go down and in front, keeping the arms parallel. Hold for a couple of seconds. Repeat 5 times.

frontstretch

Inhale, sitting with both arms and legs opened on sides and aligned to the shoulders, exhale going with the hand towards the direction of the opposite foot. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side.

lateralstretch

Next week I’ll be back with more on squats. Until then, try out some deep squats and work on your flexibility. Have a great week!

 

P.S. Thanks again to Pilates Plus for allowing us to do these images in their studio.

 

 

 

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