When it comes to strength training like bodyweight workouts or others, squats are undoubtedly one of the first exercises that might come to mind. Squats are a great lower-body exercise that primarily targets your quadriceps and glutes, and if you’ve ever done a squat-centric workout, you’ll experience the results in your lower-back muscles, abs, and even calves days later. Squats are good, but they might be challenging for some people because of a lack of hip and ankle mobility. If this sounds like you and squats are your kryptonite owing to tight hips and ankles, try heel elevated squats.
Regardless of how powerful you are, according to Renee Peel, an NSCA-certified personal trainer at Fhitting Room in New York City, hip and ankle mobility is vital for creating correct squat form. What is the rationale for this? If you have a decent range of motion in these places, you may squat deeply and engage the proper muscles. If you don’t have enough mobility, you risk overcompensating and propelling yourself forward with your back instead of your legs and glutes. Other indicators of poor hip or ankle mobility include chronic tightness or stiffness in those joints and muscles, as well as pain in other areas such as your low back or knees.
If this sounds familiar, Peel recommends elevating your heels off the floor and placing them on an elevated surface when squatting. The shin-to-foot angle changes when your heels are elevated and the backward bend (also known as “dorsiflexion”) of the foot is diminished. This will allow you to squat deeper while maintaining an erect torso, according to Peel, because it requires less ankle and hip mobility. As a result, if you raise your heels off the ground, you should be able to squat more easily (and go deeper) than if you keep your feet flat on the ground.
Simply said, a heel-elevated squat is a great option for squat beginners and those with limited hip and ankle mobility. Peel recommends that you master the principles of squatting before trying this version, such as keeping an upright stance, shifting your hips back, and evenly distributing your weight across your feet.
How to squat while elevating your heels
- Get a squat wedge, a weighted plate, or dumbbells. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart (or as you generally arrange your feet when executing squats) and your toes on the ground, with your heels on the plate or other item of your choice.
- Maintain an upright posture by controlling your core and glutes. Inhale and, as you begin to drop into a squat, press your hips backward as if you were about to sit in a chair. Try to get your hips below your knees, but don’t force it, and keep your torso upright and spine straight.
- Hold for one to three seconds, then exhale and push through your feet to return to the beginning position, leading from the crown of your head.
- This is a single rep. Perform three sets of ten reps.
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