Fix Your Squat in 30 Seconds

A lot of people struggle to squat. They think they have tight hips, a jacked up lower back or the coordination of a dolphin in a desert.

That may be the case. It’s probably not.

Most likely you’re struggling to squat, and to squat to proper depth, because you are not engaging your core.

Squatting should be a pretty natural movement pattern. Look at babies. They squat perfectly with no issue, and without really thinking about it.

baby-squat1.jpg

Babies haven’t yet developed dysfunctional movement patterns, so they still move as humans were supposed to. They don’t spent 8 hours sitting a desk, or 12 hours hunched over their phones. They don’t have any habits that cause compensation in their limbs or along their spine.

You, on the other hand, probably do have some movement dysfunction and some bad habits that cause compensation.

Correcting those issues doesn’t take a Physical Therapist, or a movement guru on social media.

You just need to learn how to properly align and fire your core.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t really like the term “Core”. I much prefer to use the term “torso”. It makes the anatomical structure references much easier to visualize.

”Core” is a very nebulous term. You might think it just means your abs. It does, but it also contains much more than just those abs. Core refers to your body without your head, arms or legs. The CORE of your body. It contains your rectus abdominis (Abs), lats, obliques (internal and external), spinal erectors, glutes and all those fun, tiny muscles within.

This sounds like a long, expensive process but it’s not.

How to Do It

Grab a light weight. 5-15 pounds is plenty, you don’t need to go much heavier than that.

Place the weight at your sternum, then extend your arms straight so the weight is being held directly in front of you with straight arms.

From there you set your feet in your squat stance and you….squat.

Any rep range will be helpful, but remember that this is a drill. This is not a main exercise. Your focus is on the movement itself, not annihilating yourself with a heavy weight.

Once you’ve finished get rid of the weight and see how much better your real squat feels.

Why It Works

Holding the weight at a challenging leverage like that forces your entire core to fire to remain upright. If you did not engage your core you would collapse forward like a baby giraffe.

Everything from your abs, to your spinal erectors to your lats has to work in unison in order to keep that weight extended in front of you, and to keep yourself from tipping over.

This drill is great because you don’t have to focus on engaging your core- the leverage of the weight will do it for you. If you focus on not falling forward all systems are go.


There you have it. Fixing a simple movement like the squat might take a little bit of time, but it does not have to be complicated. Instead of focusing on stretching your hips all day, or trying to crack your lower back you should focus on learning how to engage your core.

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Patrick Henigan