How To Fix The Forward Lean In Your Squat
Leaning too far forward on squats?
Let me assure you that you are not alone on this problem. Many times when doing assessments on clients I see this occurrence, when performing body weight squats people are unable to keep their body upright in the manner that we know to be correct. Immediately they fold into somewhat of a table top position when descending.
Why is this happening?
Lifestyle, in the rustle and bustle of city life we are left sitting for most at the minimum 8 hours a day, when sitting our hip flexors are in a shortened position, having this being a very repetitive occurrence, leads us to having chronically tight hip flexors. The double whammy to this issue of sitting down, we also tend to round our lower back, and sit in incorrect postures, leading to a weak posterior chain, the posterior chain plays a big role in our body staying erect, especially when squatting they help us resist the forward cave.
Why Is It Bad? When squatting, too much forward flexion can put excess strain on the lower back, especially if load is applied. Not only does it strain the back, it takes off a lot of the quadriceps involvement in the lift. Which should be one of the main focuses of the lift.
The take away to all this information is that we need to consistently stretch out our hip flexors, and strengthen our posterior chain in order to maintain good posture when going down into the squat. What does this look like?
Movement Preparation to Improve Squat
The first step to movement before we get into dynamic warm up will be a self-myofascial release, this will either be done with a foam roller or lacrosse ball. The main focus will be on our: hip flexors, calves, quadriceps, adductors. When faced with a tight area spend more time rolling out that area, our expected time spent rolling will be about 5 minutes total.
Upon completion of the foam rolling we will be moving to our DYNAMIC WARM UP. This will bring our joints through their active ranges of motion (AROM) and get them primed for movement.
Half Kneeling Active Hip Flexor Stretch
Get into a lunge position, allow your knee to be in straight line, proceed to let your knee track over your toes and return.
Plate elevated ankle mobilization
Find a weight, lie it flat down, put the balls of your feet on the end of the plate allowing your heel to touch the floor, let your knee track forward till you feel a stretch in your calves. Return and repeat.
Downward dog to cobra
Get into a push-up position, sit back into your heels, bring the but up and back, then proceed to bring your body to the starting position, simultaneously drop your hips to the ground, keeping the chest up, and repeat.
Get into a prone position with your arms overhead touching the ground, keep your feet together, extend up so your arms, feet and chest leave the ground, squeeze your glutes and back.
Get into an all 4 position, hands underneath the shoulders and knees under hips, drop your lower back to create a downward arch, flexing that lower back, return to starting position, bring your back into a upward arch position, allowing your shoulder blades to protract.
Exercise considerations to strengthen the posterior chain
Just like the conventional deadlift although we are going to keep or knees in a slightly bent, fixed position, hinge at the hips, keeping the weight close to our body allowing us to get a good stretch in the hamstrings.
Pendlay rows (Barbell or Dumbbell)
Get a slight bend in the knees, hinge at the hips (lean forward) maintaining a straight back so you get into a table top position, the weight should be at shoulder level, pull the weight through the elbows, squeeze the back at the top portion and allow the weight to come to a dead stop at the bottom and repeat.
Barbell Hip Thrusts
Get a flat bench, sitting on the ground along the edge, lift your arms up, allowing your shoulder blades to dig into the flat part bench, bring your heels close enough so they get to about a 90 degree angle, drive through your heels, so you come into hip extension, squeeze the glutes, and lower to the bottom to repeat.
Seated Cable rows
Once on the machine extend the legs so the cable moves out a little bit, bring your shoulders up and back, so they are now in fixed position, allowing a good stretch in your lats and back muscles, pull through your elbows so the handles touch the body, squeeze your back, extend your arms and repeat
Cable Face Pulls
Using the commonly know tricep pushdown rope, bring the cable machine to a level where it rests at chest height, grab the ends of the rope so that both thumbs are pointing up, take a step or two back, and pull the rope towards your forehead allowing your arms to come into a position where it looks like you would be flexing to show someone your arms. Squeeze your upper back, return to resting position and repeat.
How To Progress Your Squat
Work within your active range of motion where you are able to maintain a close to upright posture. Start with a high box squat and work your way lower onto a flat bench, eventually working your way to a single flawless body weight squat hitting parallel, at that point you would like to add volume to the point where you’re able to complete a few sets of 10-12 body weight squats before adding any sort of load.