This “How To” page is going to be dedicated to learning the simple breakdown of different common exercises that you may or may not be super familiar with! I will explain how to properly do each movement by providing a step by step break down and explain ways that you can get better at it yourself! I am specifically going to talk about 3 different powerlifting moves: the squat, the dead lift, and the bench press.
THE SQUAT: complete breakdown
Ill start with equipment that can be used while squatting:
- The lifting belt: what this is for is its meant to stabilize your core, so while you’re squatting you can have a strong and stable core. Most people feel like squatting is all about your butt and your legs, but the number one thing squats are for is stabilizing your core. You do not need a lifting belt if you are squatting lighter weight but once you start squatting your body weight or more, you should really look into getting a belt!
- Knee sleeves: if you aren’t lifting heavy, then you won’t necessarily need knee sleeves, but they are there to just keep your knees warm while you’re lifting heavy, they might aid you in lifting a little better, but their purpose is to keep you warm and keep you stabilized. I would recommend them if you are squatting a little bit heavier.
- Squat shoes: These are for if you are focusing on squatting, heavy and compound lifting. These are great because most of them have a little bit of a heel but they are also FLAT. Flat shoes are needed for lifting so maintain ankle stability and mobility. I usually squat in chucks, I love them, they’re flat. Never squat in running shoes, or any kind of shoe that does not have a stable and flat bottom. That way you aren’t rocking forward or backward.
- Wrist wrap: it is used to stabilize your wrist during the squat since so frequently our wrists are bent backward on the bar as we squat down. If you don’t stabilize them, your squatting often, and your squatting heavy, then it could later on cause some issues for you.
So! Those are the pieces of equipment that I personally would recommend using, you don’t necessarily need any of them, they are just great for assisting your squat and possibly helping you to lift heavier and safer in the long run!
Now for the fun part! Actually squatting!
Setting up on the bar
The number one thing you must remember and think about while you are setting up for your squat is keeping your feet under the bar. You are going to want the middle of your foot to be directly underneath the bar.
Positioning on the bar
I like to position the bar lower and I keep my hands positioned up close to my shoulders, so basically as narrow as possible because this positioning helps me feel the most powerful coming from the ground through my squat. All four of my fingers wrap around the bar and my thumb goes around the bottom with the bar resting on my rear dealt.
Un-racking the bar
squeeze your gluten and push your hips forward, hang there for a second and then un-rack the bar after you feel comfortable there.
After you have successfully un-racked the bar, you can take a 2-3 step walk-back (I try to stick to 2) just to conserve your energy. So you will take one step back with your right or left foot and place it into the position it needs to be in, then do the same with your other leg. You can adjust your feet slightly again if needed.
This completely depends on you and how you feel most comfortable. The most basic way to do the squat is with your feet positioned shoulder width apart, I personally prefer to have them slightly wider than that because its more comfortable for me! Keeping your legs about shoulder width apart with your toes pointed outward slightly is a great starting point!
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT AND I CANT STRESS IT ENOUGH. So so so many people forget about breathing! They hold in their breath, do the movement and then breath afterwards, but your breathing is just as important as everything else you do during your squat. Right before I am about to go down I take a deep breath in and hold it in my core, not my chest, I squat down, then push up. Hold as much breath in your abdomen as you can because this is what gives you the power behind your squat.
The actual squat
When you squat you want to keep your pelvis tucked underneath. Keep your spine neutral and don’t bend too far forward or too far back. When you squat down, try to squat parallel to or slightly below your knees!
Not everyone will be able to get it perfectly on the first try, it takes practice and focusing on form above all else, once you have the correct form and feel comfortable with that, you can add weight and start getting stronger! Good luck!