Do you really know how to squat? Part 3: Hips


“It’s time for some butt-rubbing!”

“Butt rubbing? Um…”

“Relax, it’s not ME rubbing your butt.”

“Oh…I was gonna say…”

“I know, I know…I haven’t even bought you dinner yet.”

“Haha! Yeah, and -”

“Less talking, more squatting.”

Now that you’ve got your weight in the right part of your foot, and your knees are tracking correctly, let’s talk bout the biggest mover in your body. The hips.

A lot of fitness magazines and the like would have us think that our core is really our “abs.” I’m here to tell you it’s not, at least not entirely. The biggest muscles (glutes, quads, hammies) in your body all attach to your pevis, and this, my friends, is where your true athletic and human animal power comes from. This, truly, is the core of your movement.

The more stable you can keep this bowl of magic water at the bottom of your spine, the more your awesome musculature will make the force you exert travel out and into the world in a productive way.

When you “air squat” (with just your body, no added weight), you want the motivation to move to come from the hip (there are examples where this may not hold true, like big front squats, but we’re talking air squats here). That means that the first thing to move will be your hips. You will shift them slightly back, before bending the knee to begin the descent.

Doing this helps a couple of things to happen almost auto-magically. First, your weight will more naturally be in your heals. Second, your knees will be “stay back.” We’ve already talked boat these things in earlier posts (here, and here). However, doing this simple wall trick will also tend to put those parts of the movement in check as well. You’re welcome.

So…find a wall. Stand about 6-8 inches from it*, and shift your weight back until your butt just touches it. Then squat, keeping your butt touching the wall for the entire movement. There’s kind of a sweet spot for it, in that you don’t want to fall back, but you also don’t want to be up on your toes. This sweet spot is a little differnt for everyone.

The thing you have to watch out for here is that you are, indeed, far enough away from the wall to ensure that the hips are back, and you’re not inadvertently shifting your weight forward into the toes at all. It may take you a few tries before you find the sweet spot, distance wise, where your butt is just barely grazing the wall, as opposed to rubbing the paint off it.

This is simply another little trick to guide you through proper form. Will you always have to thing about this? Maybe, maybe not. But if we have these tools available (and most people I know have a wall nearby), then why not use them.

Go get it!

* the distance from the wall will vary depending on proficiency of the squat, flexibility, and center of gravity. Be sensitive and find where yours feels challenging, but dialed in.

PS. Apologies for the pics…my daughter took them because she wanted to be helpful. She’s 6.

On to Lesson 4: Where are my shoulders supposed to be?