When it comes to gaining more insight on specific movements I have a few go to resources I like to utilize. One of these resources is Squat University. I have used them many times before in my blog posts because they put out top notch information that is very relevant to anyone interested in squatting, and digestible for lifters of all levels. Not to mention they also have a ballin instagram page! One post that I came across recently and have also started to be much more aware of in my own squats was one discussing overextension of the low back in the back squat. This is something that I have started to notice more recently. While it is an extremely subtle mistake, it can make a difference in your ability to stay in an advantageous position and move the weight properly. With back squats coming up this Thursday I figured this would be a perfect time to talk about this topic!
In the back squat we initiate the movement by slightly sitting our hips back before we go into the descending portion of the lift. This allows us to keep the weight over the middle of the foot creating the most optimal bar path. The proper execution of this small movement can allow us to lift the most weight possible and minimize the chance of injury. Unfortunately people sometimes overemphasize the hip back movement and end up overextending through the lower back and breaking spinal neutrality. This causes us to not be able to engage our core properly, deactivates our glutes, and tightens our hip flexors. The combination of these three things causes us to lift less weight due to not engaging the proper musculature. To avoid this problem we have to practice proper bracing patterns not only in our working sets, but from the very first rep that we do with the empty barbell. Below I have linked a video that lists some exercises to help assist people in learning to to properly brace in the squat and utilize the proper musculature for maximum power output. I would highly reccommend giving these exercises a try and making it a point to learn proper bracing patterns.
Getting into the correct position for the squat can be tricky and will take some practice. As I said before do not wait till you heavier or working sets to start and try and practice proper bracing patterns. Take a little time before class to perform a couple of activation exercises and during the warm up sets try to be as aware as possible of how you are bracing for each and every squat. As always if you need some help understanding this proper bracing pattern or you want to know more about the activation exercises please ask a coach!