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Bad Squat Technique – The Knees Forward Squatter

The barbell squat can be an extremely confusing and difficult exercise to get the hang of, especially if you are a beginner lifter.

The squat is perhaps one of the best muscle and strength building exercises out there, which is why it is such a shame when people do not know the proper way to perform it. 

Fortunately, this article will discuss the proper form for the barbell squat and how to avoid one of the most common mistakes – bring your knees forward during the lift.

So read on to learn how to improve your squat technique and whip those knees in line!

To squat correctly, you need to first understand that the bar should move in a linear fashion under control. You should never be swaying back and forth or rolling the bar higher or lower on your back during the lift.

To start, you should load the bar with an appropriate amount of weight (especially if you are new to lifting or haven’t quite got the technique yet). I cannot stress this enough! Loading the bar with too much weight while using poor form is a recipe for disaster. Ideally, you should be practicing with just the bar to learn proper form – don’t be afraid to do this!

Once you have the weight on, you’ll want to place your hands approximately shoulder width apart on the bar. Swing underneath the bar and place it on your traps or upper back. The bar placement will differ between individuals, and it is largely a matter of comfort. Slowly unrack the weight and back up into the squat rack.

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Now, to avoid bring your knees forward while you lower the weight it is critical that you keep your abdominals tight and your lower back as straight as possible. Leaning back on your heels and sticking your butt out as far as possible before you lower the weight is a great way to encourage your knees to stay in line. Doing this will also ensure that your chest stays upright and your abdominals are tight throughout the lift. 

Bringing your knees forwards can result in a loss of power as you lift the weight and also has the potential to cause serious injury. Lower the weight until your knees and hip joint are in a straight line. Explode the weight upwards, keeping your knees perpendicular and your core muscles tight.

If you still find yourself bringing your knees forward, you can perform some isolation exercises in addition to practicing your technique. The following exercises are designed to strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors so that you develop enough strength to sit back into the lift instead of move forward.

Try performing: leg extensions, leg presses, hamstring curls, leg raises (focusing on the hip flexors), hip adduction, hip abduction, and lunges. You will probably find that increasing the strength of your stabilizing muscles will help in straightening out your knees during the lift and allow you to bring them behind your feet. 

The squat is a complicated exercise – but you shouldn’t get discouraged!  Watching as many video explanations of the barbell squat as you possibly can is a great way to perfect the technique.  Keep practicing!

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