It's impossible not to run into a squat at some point in your fitness lifetime. Whether you're doing a HIIT workout or in a yoga class (hello, Chair pose), you're bound to find yourself squatting (and perhaps grimacing) at least once. Just because it's a common exercise doesn't mean it's done correctly across the board, though. POPSUGAR spoke with Dee (Diksha) Gautham, NASM-certified personal trainer and NPC bikini competitor, who knows her fair share about lower body movements — and has seen many people make the same mistakes over and over again.
We asked Dee what the primary thing is that she sees people getting wrong at the gym when it comes to squats: "Caving your knees inwards during a squat." Dee explained, "This is called knee valgus or knee collapse and puts your knees in a very uncomfortable and compromised position." This isn't only a mistake that beginners make. In fact, if you walk around the gym and look at those who are doing heavy lifting, you will likely see someone whose knees are buckling inward, which means their weight is so heavy that their form has fallen to the wayside.
"This stresses your knee joint by putting it in a dangerous position and damages your ligaments," Dee told POPSUGAR. Additionally, squatting with the wrong form will prevent you from successfully activating the muscles that are meant to be strengthened from the squat, like your glutes and quads. That means your booty won't grow from all your hard work, and we can't think of anything more tragic than that.
So how do you fix this? "Focus on increasing your mobility and strength in your hips and glutes, which help rotate your knees outward," Dee suggested. "Particularly focus on the gluteus medius, which can be targeted via exercises done on the hip abduction machine."
Anytime you're squatting, think about pushing your knees outward, in the same direction as your toes. "You can try using bands around your knees when squatting. This will encourage you to push against the resistance and point your knees outward," Dee said. Another good idea is to stretch your hips before squatting; this may sound unrelated, but opening up your hips will help them activate more during the squat movement, which will take the pressure off of your knees.
Finally, don't go overboard with the weights you're using. If you're lifting too heavy, your knees will be one of the first indicators. Only use a weight that will allow you to get from start to finish with the correct form. Your booty will thank you for it.
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