Squatting is a great exercise that plays an important part in many strength programs. It’s able to be loaded pretty heavily, it hits a large percentage of muscle mass, which is great for training economy, immune, and endocrine stimulation. While the technique is relatively simple, most of the time the lift gets butchered, especially with endurance athletes. Here’s why:
1. Poor mobility at the hip and ankle.
This limits an athlete’s ability to get adequate depth.
2. A desire to load way too heavily initially.
Again, this limits the athlete’s ability to gain depth, but this time it is simply due to excessive load. Limit the ego first and then get into heavier lifting. The best time to groove the squat technique at first is in the warm up period.
3. Some athletes just aren’t built to be good squatters.
Those with long femurs and torsos, for example, just don’t handle squatting as well as a shorter individual. That said, however, most people can learn to squat very well.
4. Weak or under-active glutes.
In those just beginning to lift, loaded squatting is probably not the best option. Before jumping into heavy loading, glute max and glute med need to be working together to allow proper technique. If not, you get a bunch of incomplete reps that exacerbate existing issues along with (most often) a medial deviation of the knee.
There you have a few issues that need to be taken care of before loading is progressed too much. As our athletes are not training to lift a maximal load (a la powerlifters), it is okay (and necessary) to take some time to groove the right pattern. It certainly won’t be “wasted time” as the chances are that many of the typical dysfunctional patterns seen in runners will get cleaned up as the prerequisite work for good squatting gets done.