Rachel Anne Hobbs' seven tips to a 'Super Squat'

The squat is the most infamous training movement ever performed; you either love it or you hate it. It is a fundamental movement that utilises almost every muscle in the human body but so many of us struggle to achieve the correct technique which means squat strength does not increase.

Here are seven tips to a 'Super Squat'. 

1. Mobility

Before even attempting to put a barbell on your back, prepare your body for the movement. Perform this routine three times to mobilise the hips, back and ankles:

10 x cat – cow pose
10 x straddle sit stitch forward to back roll 
10 x down dog to cobra 
10 x lateral lunge each side
10 x overhead squat 
10 x calf raise each side
10 x paused deep squats 
10 x ankle rotations each side 
5 x high squat jumps 

2. Knees should follow your toes

Your knees should stay in line with your toes, many people push their knees out wider than their toes but this can cause injury. Women often squat with their toes pointed out, a little like a penguin stance, due to the slightly wider pelvis; their knees should, therefore follow their toes and go a little wider. 

The myth that knees should “stay behind” toes is incredibly difficult to accomplish if you desire a below parallel of “ass to grass” squat. It is fine for the knees to track slightly beyond the toes to achieve a deeper squat. 

3. Power belly 

A power belly, as the name suggests, originates from the technique of a power squat. The principle behind it is instead of squeezing the abdominals in, you push the belly out to create tension in the core. This prevents you folding your body forwards as you reach depth in the squat and allows you to push straight back up. 

Rachel Hobbs performing a perfect squat

4. Pull down on the bar 

Pulling down on the bar feels strange at first; however, it allows you to keep tension in the upper back causing the chest to stay upright and like the power belly prevents folding over at the bottom of the squat. In other words, it keeps the spine in alignment. Simply pull the bar down and into your back whilst squeezing your shoulder blades together. 

5. Squeeze glutes at the top of the movement 

A common error in squatting is to not finish the movement therefore not getting maximal contraction of all muscles involved. When coming up from the hole of your squat, thrust the hips forwards and squeeze the glutes together so they are maximally squeezed at the very top. 

6. Breathe mindfully 

Breathing is an important part of achieving a personal best in your squats. Start to practise correct breathing technique during the warm up so that you will at the top of the squat take a big breath in, imagine filling your belly with air. Hold your breath on the way down and as soon as you hit depth start to exhale so your lungs are empty by the time you are back at the top of the squat. 

7. Form over ego

Before stacking up your barbell with huge weight plates, concentrate on being able to perform the squat with good technique. Mobilise to allow the body to reach adequate depth, keep the chest high by pulling down on the bar, keep eyes focused on a spot, take a big breath in and start to bend the knees and sit back keeping weight evenly spread and knees following toes. Once you have hit depth exhale, keep pulling down on the bar and squeeze glutes to contract back up and thrust hips forward to complete the movement. 

Rachel Anne Hobbs, is a Registered Health and Performance Dietitian and founder of The Nutrition Clinic. I was voted as one of the World’s top 10 Personal Trainers and one of the only qualified health professionals that can assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public-health level.