A column by Bullz-Eye Fitness Editor Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.
I am a 60 year old male and love to do squats but my technique suffers at times because I always want to go heavy. I realize that you have other things to do than answer questions but I notice in the pictures that your eyes are looking straight ahead. I have been re-evaluating my squatting technique and was told that the eyes should be looking up as high as possible as you go down in the squat. The logic given was that this keeps your back straighter. Which is the right way?
How do you ensure that you are going low enough on each rep?
How many times a week should you do squats to get the most improvement?
Thanks for any help you can give.
Thanks for your questions.
One doesn’t have to look up in order to attain proper form when squatting. However, looking up is an excellent way to help ensure your form is correct especially for those lacking experience. The object of looking up is to get your head to extend. By looking up it will help keep your back in the proper position by helping to prevent flexion or “rounding”. If you look up w/o extending your head slightly toward the ceiling, you won’t get a benefit. The body follows the head.
Another way to ensure your back is engaged properly is to take a deep breath right before lowering the weight. This helps ensure your chest is up and builds intra-abdominal pressure which helps stabilize the entire spine.
I look straight ahead most of the time when I squat. However, he heavier I go, the more my head extends toward the ceiling and deeper my breaths get.
To ensure proper depth, have somebody watch you while your warming up. “Parallel” is what you want to shoot for when squatting. Your femur or thigh bone should be level with the floor at the bottom of the movement. An easy way to judge this is by making sure the crease where your thigh meets your hip (at the bottom of the movement) is level with the top of your knee.
If done correctly, the squat is by far the single most taxing exercise on your body. For this reason I recommend only squatting once per week at the most. You will need this time to recover.
Keep up the good work. Let me know how you do.
My sister was raising my twin nieces as vegetarians and I read/heard somewhere that your body loses its ability to digest meat if you go long enough w/o(something to do w/ enzymes I think, I’m sure you know exactly why this happens). So I gave her tons of shit. My argument, was that they should be raised on a normal diet and then decide for themselves what kind of diet, if any, they would follow. Now they eat chicken, hey it’s a start. Thanks for providing me w/ references and another angle to argue for why they should eat meat.
Keep up the good work.
I’m glad your sister has started to feed your nieces some chicken. However what about eggs, cheese, milk, fish, etc. Without protein the body can’t and won’t grow. Protein also maintains and repairs all the tissues in our bodies. When a parent deprives their children of the highest quality protein because they don’t like it, or they have an aversion to killing animals, its neglect in my opinion. That’s how important I feel protein is to the development and maintenance of the human body.
How about feeding kids a well balanced diet of vegetables, protein, and good carbs, and cutting out most of the sugar laden snacks, juices, and sodas. Notice I said MOST. Even I think ice-cream, soda, and snacks are Ok once in a while. In this country the nutritional state of affairs of our children is dismal. Obesity is at epidemic proportions, and diabetes is sky rocketing. This is all due to lazy parents feeding their kids processed convenient foods and allowing them to spend hours in front of the computer and TV instead of playing outside.
Sorry about going on a tangent.
I just read the article you put up on the bullz-eye website about squats with a barbell. It’s a great article and I am just getting into body building. however when I do those squats, I do them in a slightly different way, the way I do them is that instead of coming ‘all the way down’ I tend to stop at a sort of a 75 degree angle. the reason why is that if I go lower like the ones in the pictures my legs crack as I go back up again, so I think if i’m doing them with this crack I may end up with arthritis (please excuse my spelling) which I obviously don’t want. I was just wondering if there is a way to stop this crack and go all the way down?
I’ve been told by a few prominent orthopedics that cracking is nothing to worry about as long as there is no pain associated with it. Do your knees crack every rep or just on the first few? Usually when people get warmed up the crack tends to subside.
Q: I have much success developing both size and size and strength in all muscle groups, however, I am a hard gainer as far as shoulders are concerned. What would be a good routine to promote rapid growth in that area?
A: Try kneeling side lateral raises. Do not bring your arms above parallel to the ground, and the palms of your hands should be facing down at the top of the movement. At the bottom of the movement, try to keep your hands on the outside of the lateral part of your thigh. (Do not allow the dumbbells to x-over your thighs) Doing this allows one to build momentum. Momentum has nothing to do with exerting tension on the muscle. And if you’re an avid reader you know that tension has everything to do with building muscle and strength. Perform 2 -3 warm-ups with one working set to failure. 8-10 reps.
Next do 1 1/3rds standing lateral raises. Raise the dumbbell in the same fashion you do the above exercise. Once you reach parallel to the floor, let the dumbbells down 1/3rd of the way, and immediately raise them back to parallel. Now, lower them all the way. This is one rep.
Perform 1 warm-up with one set to failure. 10 -12 reps.
For the last exercise do bent over lateral raises for the rear part of the deltoid. This is all too often an overlooked body-part. Sit on the end of a flat bench. Bend over so your stomach and chest lightly touch your quads. Grasp the dumbbells at your feet with your arms slightly bent. Under control slowly raise your arms up with your elbows point toward the ceiling. At the top of the movement your thumbs should be pointing down. Under control lower the weight back down to the outside of your feet. Perform 1 warm-up with one all out set to failure. 10 -12 reps.
Thanks for writing