How To Do Squats Correctly – Avoid Common Mistakes

By | February 10, 2015

How To Do Squats Correctly – Avoid Common Mistakes

Squat is one of the most important exercises to pack on some serious size and strength as well as improve athletic performance. But it’s crucial to know how to do squats correctly with proper technique since you’re putting yourself under heavy loads that will task more or less your whole body.

Lot of beginners are intimidated by the squat since when you start doing them you’ll compare yourself to the stronger guys who move ridicilous amounts of weight when squatting. But once you hammer the technique down you might be surprised how fast you can progress on this lift.

Most Common MistakesHow To Do Squats Correctly

Half Squatting – Like mentioned above comparing yourself to the stronger guys by ego lifting is quite common in gyms. Usually the most common scenario is Half Squatting. It’s easy to load the bar with 4 plates of 45’s and start half squatting BUT you’ll be doing a huge mistake since squatting this way you will not experience any of the amazing benefits this lift has to offer.

But there are some guys and girls who try to perform regular squats but they try to keep their torso too upright and never bend at the hips and this results as a half squat.

Often times people try to explain that they cannot do normal squats because of their bad knees or back. This is usually complete BS and to be honest if that is the case you’re better off by not doing the half squats at all. The only time half squats are usable is when you’re getting used to heavier weights that you cannot normally squat BUT even then high box squats serve this puprose way better.

How To Do Squats CorrectlyOver Exaggeration Of Breaking At The Hips – This results a really awkward position from the mid and lower part of the lift. This results in upper back rolling forward and lower back rounding, probably the worst kind of mistake one can do with the squat. Basically you’re trying to squat with minimal bending of your knees.

So let’s look at how you can prevent both of these issues along with many other more minor mistakes.

How To Squat With Proper Form

#1 Upper Back Tight – Probably the most important part when you want to squat in the best manner possible. Keeping your upper back tight will ensure that your lower back will not round and your upper back will not collapse forward. Your upper back should be as tight as possible throughout the movement. A good way to ensure upper back tightness is to point yourHow To Do Squats Correctly elbows DOWN and not flared out. This will squeeze your shoulder blades against your back and that will ensure that the back stays tight. Also another good cue would be to PULL your elbows down not just point them down this will create more tensions to your upper back.

#2 Break At Knees – This is simply the only way to avoid lower back rounding. You have to first break at the knees and after that sit back to initiate the squat. But now you might encounter a new problem since when you’re upper back is tight and you break at the knees and after that sit back, your knees are too far forward. This results in strain on the knees and prevent you hitting the best depth possible and make the squat uncomfortable. So there is a simple fix to this at part #3…

#3 Open Up The Hips – By opening up your hips you’ll minimize the knee travel and can comrotably sit down to the correct depth. Even though opening up the hips sounds fancy it’s really straight forward, just point your toes out a bit more and widen your stance. This will allow your your knees to track out and forward. This will allow your glutes and hamstrings do the work while keepingsquat_Correct_form the back straight. There is not a one angle and stance works for everybody you have to test it out and see what feels the best for you.


Squat is one of the best overall exercises to do and offers huge benefits to virtually everyone. With the proper technique they not only give you ridiculous strength but develop your core and promote natural posture. Start squatting with the guides outlined above and you’ll be golden.

But like mentioned earlier as with every exercise you have to try and experiment which kind of stance width and grip width works best for your individual body type and strength. But as a general rule start with shoulder width grip and shoulder width stance and adjust accordingly.squat_elbows_not_flared

Let’s check the main points once again:

  • Keep upper back tight!!
  • Break at knees
  • Open up hips by turning toes sligthly outside (try different angles and see what works best for you)
  • Shoulder width stance (again experiment with this and see what works for you)
  • Shoulder width grip
  • Hammer down the proper technique before going heavy

That’s all there really is to it people. Check out my comprehensive article on how to build muscle for beginners HERE!

Did you find this article helpful? I’d love to hear if you have some questions or suggestions in mind. Drop me a line down below and let me know what you think!

Remember to train hard and train SMART!



16 thoughts on “How To Do Squats Correctly – Avoid Common Mistakes

  1. Chris Towers

    Keeping fit is something I enjoy and I certainly enjoy working out with weights. Squats was always something I struggled with though as I sometimes have a lower back pain.

    This is information is helpful as it covers the correct approach.



    1. Jesse Post author

      Lower back pain is almost all the time a result of improper lifting technique, mainly upper back tightness and tight hips. One really useful thing is to squat with small 1.25 kgs weight plates under your heels if you don’t own olympic lifting shoes. Usually this give a lot of range of motion to the squat and hitting correct depth becomes easier and the squat feels more natural this way.

  2. Dan

    Hey, I mever realized squats had some-technicality to it. I’ll have to try it again while following your tips. I’ve put on some weight over the last 6 months, I’m 50lbs over weight and it doesn’t take long for my knees to get sore during workouts such as this, any tips or advice?

    1. Jesse Post author

      Dan this depends how much fat you’ve slapped on. If you can tell that you’re obese at the moment and your knees are getting sore fast, definately don’t do squats with weights just stick to bodyweight squats. What I’d suggest is to cut out that excess fat you’ve gained and after you’ve shed it off start to incorporate squats slowly to your routine and see if your knee feels better! Happy trainings 🙂

  3. greg

    I am always terrified of squats. I feel like i squat too low and over extend my knee.. Is this correct? I think I have my back arch in though. I always thought of it like a happy cat… they arch their backs when they are happy 🙂


    1. Jesse Post author

      Hahaha that’s great thought Greg! If the over extension is a problem you might not be opening your hips. This results in knee travelling too far forward. To fix this point your toes outward a bit and if that doesn’t solve it widen your stance a bit! Happy trainings Greg 🙂

  4. Matthew Johnson

    I’ve never been much of a squatter… Does this form also work without weights to aid in leg development? Knowing now of some benefits to squats, I should get in the game! Enjoyed the post!

    1. Jesse Post author

      Matthew absolutely! In fact it would be a great idea to practice first with just bodyweight squats 🙂

  5. Emily

    Hi Jesse
    I have been working out in gyms for years and have seen so many people grunting and huffing while doing squats the wrong way. And it turns out I also was not going low enough! I have had back and neck pain for many years and I can certainly see the importance of having the good form and posture. Thanks for the pictures in your post as they were very helpful.

    1. Jesse Post author

      Emily I’m happy you realized this by reading the post! If you have problem with hitting the depth as mentioned in post try to turn your toes outside a bit and widen the stance a bit also. Then if you still find it hard you can add 1.25kg plates under your heels 🙂 And when you learn to keep your upper back tight when squatting it will enforce better thoracic extension and promote upright posture which can be a really helpful to your neck and back pain if it’s a result of poor posture! We are sitting way too much nowadays and that puts us in unnatural posture which will results in lot of neck and back issues. Hope this helped a bit 🙂

  6. Diondre

    I love bodybuilding and squatting is such a great exercise that not only helps you build muscle but is also burns more calories than any other exercise. Thanks for showing what the correct form should be when doing this exercise. It’s gonna help a bunch on my next leg day :).

    1. Jesse Post author

      You’re on point Diondre! Good to know you got something out from this 🙂

  7. Julian

    Whoa. I’ll have to share this with my teammates. Thanks, man. I didn’t know squatting like this.


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