The ability to perform a squat or partial squat is an essential primal movement in life we must all be able to do, whether you are 8 or 80 years old. When we think of a squat, most of us associate the move with weight training or a specific sport activity. However, we all perform variations of a squat everyday with activities of daily living ranging from lifting a box to picking up a child or sitting down in a chair. Our ability to do this in a safe and correct manner can be the difference between injury and living a healthy, pain free life.
Olympic lifts and their variations have long been used as a strengthening technique to enhance sports performance. The use of Olympic weightlifting is evident as regular practice by university and professional strength coaches, and supported in refereed journals (1,2,3,4). As sports performance professionals become more knowledgeable and skilled in designing sport specific programs, more information regarding Olympic lifting is necessary in order to help them best serve their athletes. Before designing an Olympic lifting program, it is important for sports performance professionals to understand the scientific rationale and effectiveness of the Olympic lifts.
To this day, we still hear certain squat rules echoed over and over throughout gyms and health clubs by many fitness professionals that often sound contradictory. While some rules emerged through research, the origins of others may lie in folklore and myth. The squat is one such example where we hear an endless list of cues: keep the knees behind the toes, align your knees over your second toe, open your stance, keep your head up, and many more. Which do we trust as evidence-based and which present as more myth than fact?