Bubble Butt Squats

by Admin on October 29, 2015

Squats – they are arguably one of the most frequently seen exercises in a gym, group fitness class or workout DVD. And if you’ve ever worked with a personal trainer or participated in a group fitness class, you’ve likely heard the typical squat cues such as, “weight in the heels, drop your but, knees over toes,” etc. But the key to proper squat form is so much more than just knowing the right ways to align your body.

We do squats to shape the booty, right? We all want that tight tush. So to shape the booty, you have to get activation of the glute muscles – the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus – the major muscles that shape the butt and power the hips and legs. In order to do this, there must be proper form throughout the movement. But sometimes it seems nothing we do can correct our improper form – your toes keep turning out, you can’t sit back in your heels, and you can’t drop your butt. In these cases, it’s not a matter of form, but a muscle imbalance.

A muscle imbalance occurs when one muscle is over active, or tight, while it’s opposing muscle is under active, or weak. When muscles are imbalanced, normal movement patterns are impaired, resulting in improper form when performing an exercise, which can ultimately lead to injury due to improper joint movement.

In the case of squats, muscle imbalances, particularly in the hips and calves, lead to an inability of the glute muscles to properly and fully activate. Since activating the glute muscles is the main purpose of performing squats, it is imperative to address any muscle imbalances you might have if you’re trying to shape that booty.

As a personal trainer, every new client I work with goes through a detailed assessment to identify any muscle imbalances. Here’s a glimpse at part of the assessment I use with clients, and something you can use to see what imbalances you might have.

Check yourself in the mirror from various angles while doing squats, or better yet, have a friend video you from different angles during a series of squats. And look for these common faults in form. A proper squat assessment is best observed when you are wearing form fitting clothing and no shoes.

From the front, check the feet for the ankles rolling in (“flat” feet), the feet turning out, and the knees falling inward or outward.

From the back, look again for the ankles rolling inward, the heels rising off the floor, and an asymmetrical weight shift. A weight shift will usually not be as obvious as the photo above. It may only be evident in a slight height difference in one of the hips, but may go unnoticed at the knee and shoulder level.

Lastly, from the side, look for an excessive arching or rounding of the low back, an excessive forward lean, and the arms falling forward.

Make notes of what movement compensations you see. Each compensation indicates imbalances in various muscles, and it would be too much for this article to list every possible muscle imbalance. Generally speaking, the most common imbalances are found in the hip flexors and the calf muscles. You can check to see if these muscles are tight by using a foam roller and slowly rolling over the muscles to see if any spots are tender. If you find a tender spot, that is a tight muscle, and needs to be released using self myofascial release – a fancy term for foam rolling or another type of firm pressure. Using the foam roller, or baseball, or trigger release ball or stick, hold on that spot for 20-30 seconds, or until you feel the muscle release. Sometimes, this can take time – meaning several sessions over the course of several days or even weeks. And usually, it is something that needs to be maintained by continuing to foam roll. Also keep in mind that there are many muscles which make up the hip flexors.

In addition to the muscles in the photo, the gluteus minimus, located near the Tensor Fasciae, is also a hip flexor and may require release.

Once you have identified your muscle imbalances, and are properly using self myofascial release, you should in turn get better joint movement and improve your squat form. Remember that to achieve maximum results from squats, or any exercise, and to best prevent injury, you must solve your muscles imbalances so the body can move in the most efficient way in which it was designed!

If you feel that you have numerous imbalances, or using these release techniques are not helping improve your squat form, you probably need to be evaluated by a qualified trainer or other professional who can better address your specific needs.

*Rebekah Henwood is a NASM certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, however, she is not a medical doctor. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.





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