4. Squatting With Incorrect Form
When you’re doing squats, you should of course strive to have the bar parallel to the ground. However, even if you don’t, this is not the worst thing you can mess up. I’ve seen people lean so forward that their hips are way back. This way, they’re putting the pressure on their hips, backs and glutes instead of their quads. This way of doing squats also carries a risk of injury – you could damage your spinal erectors, so if you don’t know how to do barbell squats with the correct form, don’t try to do them and don’t throw on a ton of weight just to impress other people in the gym. You could leave on a stretcher or worse. Practice your form until you no longer have any flaws – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here’s how to fix this:
- When you’re standing in a stance wider than your shoulders, have your toes pointed outwards, but make sure that you keep your body as straight as possible. If you’re a bit taller you might need to widen your stance to accommodate your necessities.
- Make sure that the arch in your lower back is emphasized at all times during the squat.
- Your eyes should be straight forward and your head stable and locked in place.
- When you do the actual squat make sure that your butt is positioned over your heels, as if you were about to sit down.
- When you’re lifting up from the lowest point of the squat, you will need to drive your hips up before you do the same with your knees.
- You can practice your form by sitting on a bench (with just a light connection between your butt and the bench) and standing up from it, set at parallel. You can practice this with very little weight or without any weight at all, and it will help you get your stance in order.
- Try doing squats on a Smith machine until you get your form right, and then keep going with free weight squats for best effect.
5. Failing at Failure
When you’re training your legs, more often than not you’re doing pushing movements such as front squats, walking lunges and leg presses. If you do these with full intensity it will make your thighs feel like they’ve just been hit with a flamethrower and since it’s so uncomfortable most people don’t spend enough time experiencing that burn. If you regularly do superset biceps and triceps workouts or forced reps of bench presses and side lateral drop sets, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to put the same pressure on your legs as well, just because it’s going to hurt too much.
As I said, the number of bodybuilders who actually go all the way through the pain is not very high, instead most of them take to low-rep training. If you want to reach the maximum possible intensity, you want to do the following – reach muscle failure on five and then on fifteen reps. It won’t hurt as much when you reach those 15 and experience failure. When you do those two sets, get up and do a 15 rep set of hack squats or lunges. This will help you reach the maximum possible progress in a single workout.
Here’s how to fix this:
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- Make sure that you do sets of ten to fifteen reps for maximum intensity.
- Techniques to boost your intensity are okay to use sometimes. These are your classic supersets, partials and rest-pause to push sets after full-rep failure.
- Know that pain is a part of exercising and especially a part of any complete quad workout.
Finally, make sure that your legs change positions according to your target muscles. Also, do full sets of eight to twelve reps, with proper form and all the way to muscle failure or beyond. When doing squats or leg presses, your legs should at least be perpendicular to your thighs.