‘ACCURACY’ HAS BECOME one of the most common words uttered by Irish athletes in search of greatness in recent years.
It relates, not just to hitting the target with a ball or putting your feet in the right place during competition; it encompasses everything within the daily grind of trying to become fitter, faster, stronger, better.
So, every Tuesday we’ll aim to bring you the best technical advice on an individual exercise that can make all the difference to both your physique and performance. This week, squats.
If they were enjoyable, they probably wouldn’t be doing you a whole lot of good. But a good squat should be absolutely central to the routine of an athlete of any level.
Looking to lose weight? The legs hold the largest muscle groups in the body and so can use a large amount of calories to sustain. Intent on improving your performance? The legs are quite literally the basis on which you will excel in any field – be it occasional powerful bursts or prolonged exertion.
So here are some things to remember when enduring that set of squats.
Keep your arms in place and feet shoulder-width apart
You don’t have to squat with weights on your shoulders (but it can help). If you’re using just your bodyweight as resistance; keep your arms out of your way, stretch them straight in front of you and concentrate on what your legs are doing.
Stick that big ol’ rump out and go as low as you dare, but as a minimum let’s aim to get your thighs at a 90 degree angle to your knee. Go lower if you can.
Keep your back straight
This is the most important to keep yourself improving rather than risking injury. Dipping your head down to reach a point won’t help, you get low by bending your knees and using your hips as a hinge.
If you’re working out on your own, don’t be afraid to use a mirror to check in on your form.
Flat-footed is a good thing
There’ll be plenty of time for agility training.
Most of us can’t afford or can’t be bothered to go buying footwear specifically for weight training, so when squatting try to do so in flat shoes or even bare feet.
When pushing yourself back into a standing position, make sure not to lean your weight onto your toes. Instead keep your heels rooted to the spot so that they can channel the weight as you rise.
Thrust and breath
Inhale on your way down and, when you come up, do it with power. Exhale on the way up and give your move a rhythm by pushing your hips and abs forward on the finish.
Now, do it all over again. And again, and again, and again….