First of all, I apologize for not being on here in a while. That is, however, about to change! I am very close to making a pretty big commitment, that I will start blogging about once I make sure I can get the day off from work.
Anyway, this post is about squatting. Well actually it's about more than squatting. It's about throwing everything you thought you were doing right in the trash and starting over. That's what I did to my squat.
The thing is I started squatting when I was 23 in a military gym. I didn't have anyone to teach me the right way of doing it, so I just did what everybody else did - I put as much weight as I possibly could on the bar and entered the guys' pissing contest. No one mentioned (or knew of?) form, we all lifted heavier each week, and life was good.
In October of 2012, eight years had passed and I was still squatting. Nevertheless, I was still maxing out at the same amount of weight as I was eight years earlier. 150-155 pounds - just about my own weight. Not a very impressive progression curve...
October 2012 was the first time anyone ever told me I was squatting all wrong. At first, I found it hard to believe, not only because I had been doing it for so long, but also because I was lifting a lot more than most girls.
The incorrectness of my squat was a typical rookie mistake: I wasn't keeping my weight on my heals and in the squat position my knees were way in front of my toes.
When the trainer showed me how to do it correctly, I couldn't even do the movement without any weight. It was pitiful. And devastating. I went home and didn't really know what to do about it. The trainer said that I had a flexibility problem. Hmmm. Yeah, he was probably right. I tried to remember the last time I had really done a good stretch. Hmmm...
At this point I was faced with two options: 1) Keep squatting the way I was, stay at the weight I was, and quite possibly end up with a knee injury. Or 2) Start all over, concentrate on flexibility and lift a fraction of what I was doing, but with the possibility of lifting heavier and keeping my knees healthy.
It was painful to make the decision, but I decided to start all over. My main issue was flexibility, so I started stretching thoroughly after each and every workout. I stretched out my whole body but focused extra on the inner part of my thighs and my hip flexors. They were - to say the least - very, very tight. When we did squats at the gym, there were times that I would only lift the bar. I simply couldn't lift any more and still do it right.
If you want to test and see if you are squatting correctly; go find a wall. Face the wall and put your feet in the squatting position (feet a little more than shoulder width apart. Position your feet so that your toes are about about 1-2 inches from the wall. Now do a full squat facing the wall. It's not that easy! When doing this, I realized that I had pretty weak spinal erectors - the muscles in the very lower part of your back that keep your back straight up. I used the GHD with great success to improve the strength of my spinal erectors. I highly recommend it.
It took me about 3-4 months to get my form right and then I started adding weight. I can honestly say that it has been a LOOOONG process. Nevertheless, I managed to set a new personal record on my squat about a week ago. I lifted 170 pound almost out of the blue. It was awesome! It was like something finally clicked.
170 pound is 15 pounds pounds more than I have ever lifted. I firmly believe that correcting my technique is the main factor in achieving this. What is even more important is that I feel like I have a lot more in me now. Kinda like its just the beginning of my squat. Pretty cool.