A squat seems like one of the simplest, most straightforward exercises you can do, but in reality it’s quite complex and involves a ton of brain-body connection. A squat can also let a trainer know right away if there are any imbalances in your posture and alignment. In fact, it’s one of the quickest ways your trainer will spot mistakes in your form so they can help you prevent injuries in your movement patterns.

Caitlin Ritt, a private trainer at Sports Club/LA and founder of The Lotus Method, told OurStyle that the biggest mistake she sees clients make is putting too much weight into the toes — and even lifting the heels during a squat! “The biggest mistake I see people do over and over in the gym is squats and lunges with the weight in their toes and their heels coming up off the ground,” she says. “I have clients come to me all the time complaining about knee pain, and as soon as I get them to keep the weight through their heels, almost always the knee pain goes away.”

We talked to trainer and injury-prevention specialist Liz Letchford, MS, ATC, about this as well. She told us that “it is important to avoid squatting with your weight in the toes,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean lifting your toes off the ground to overcompensate.

“This biomechanical mistake is often one of many causes of knee, hip, or back pain,”
she said. “When performing squats, it is important to shift your weight to be evenly distributed throughout your feet: toes on the ground, with the arch of your foot intact and strong.”

She recommends short-foot stance. Here’s how that works: “Imagine your foot as a tripod, with the ball of your foot, knuckle under your pinky toe, and heel as the three points.” Are three all glued to the ground; with those three points secure, lift your arch (Liz always says “make a mouse house with your arch.”). Use this to create even weight distribution, firm footing, and traction to support the rest of your chain when you get into your squat. Bonus: not only will it keep you safe and prevent injury, but it’ll help you build a stronger, bigger booty in the process!

Image Source: OurStyle Photography / Diggy Lloyd

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