Skip to main content

Fairytales from the gym: The Squat Queen

OK, so back to Fairytales, I want to look at another gym trope.

It's very easy, as we've already seen, to fall into habits based around your favourite exercises and the goals that mean the most to you, while losing sight of the importance of a balanced routine for good health and alignment.

So without further ado, let's introduce our next character: The Squat Queen.

  • Is squat your favourite exercise?
  • Do you regularly take pictures of your bum for instagram? (no shame guys, we've all been there)
  • Do you own more leggings and yoga pants than you have space for? (Yeah, me too)
  • And shirts with slogans about squatting?
  • Are you all about "dat ass"?

Then, you might be heading in a SQ direction.

Love squats, because they love you too.

OK, so squat is an amazing exercise. It works some really good muscles, burns through a good few calories with that compound work. Plus you can do about a million variations: Narrow ones, wide ones, front squats, back squats, goblet squats, split squats, pistol squats, figure 4 squats, wall squats... you get the idea. It would be entirely possible to fill your workout card with squats, but should you?

Then there's this guy, the squat is strong with him.
Well no. At least not every day. Have a squat day if you like, but remember you're going to have to match it with days for all the other bits of your body!

Antagonising your squats

First rule of the workout plan - there are two sides to every story. If you are squatting you also need to work the muscles that antagonise your squat muscles - the hamstrings and hip flexors.
So for every squat type exercise on your card try adding in:

  • Deadlifts
  • Glute bridges (yes those will hit up the glutes again, but differently)
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Leg curls
  • Straight leg raises
Doing this creates balance in both the function and proportion of your body.

Balancing your body

While we are considering  balance in the body, we should probably talk about upper body.
Squat Queen, being the opposite counterpart to Upper Body Only Guy, will need to work on this too.

I wonder whether there is a link here to the idea that women don't lift. It has become more "acceptable" for women to squat recently. Because butts. But there are still a lot of myths floating around about women and strength training, and a fear or working the upper body.

I've talked about how that is all nonsense before, but I want to add one more thing here. When a woman does build a bit of upper body muscle, particularly in the shoulders, it adjusts her silhouette. Put a tiny bit of definition on the shoulders and it balances out the strong bum and thighs, while emphasizing the waist. Aesthetics in body proportions usually needs upper body training.

Beating the booty posture

Genuine conversation with a fellow Fitpro during a postural assessment session:
"this woman has serious hyperlordosis"
"nooo, she's got a nice bum"
"no dude, that's not how spines are supposed to work"

So we are back to taking bum selfies in yoga pants, and you know that pose where the low back arches so the bum sticks out more....

Hyperlordosis (excessive curvature in the low back) is a pretty common postural problem, I see it a lot among the dancers I work with, and postnatal women I see for yoga and personal training. It's really common in women who wear high heels, and also in men who have excess abdominal weight. It's a problem because it results in a weaker low back and predisposes you to injury. With the pelvis tilted you are also not able to properly engage your glutes - which compromises your glute gains in squats too.

Squats won't give you hyperlordosis, but they won't help it either.

Correcting posture is a long road to be trodden carefully and consistently, but if you want to take care of your low back this is what I would recommend:

  • Train your hamstrings (yes we had this earlier, seriously, train your hamstrings)
  • Wake up your glutes and hip rotators - do light hip mobility and glute activation exercises pre workout. I include clam shells, bridges and some flow stuff focused on getting the glutes firing properly at low intensity before I load up with weight.
  • Stretch out your low back - I like cat stretch and child pose, every workout, and often forward fold between sets.
  • Stretch your hip flexors - this one seems odd, because your hip flexors aren't working in a squat, but often with hyperlordosis, they are short, and we bend our knees to compensate, a kneeling quad and hip stretch will cover this, and maintain quad length after squats.
If you have found an exercise you love to do, and are getting great results from, you are off to a great start. Imagine what you could do with the next great exercise, and the one after that....

If you would like some help with your programme, don't forget that you can get a personalised workout programme, or online training from me, through Fire Lotus Fitness.


Popular posts from this blog

Managing Fibromyalgia flares

I've written before about living with EDS and Fibromyalgia ,  much of my personal fitness and health practices are geared around managing those conditions and keeping me as well as I can be. When managing a chronic health condition, particularly one that involves fatigue and potential flare ups, pacing, good nutrition, good sleep and generally taking care of yourself is always the first priority. Ideally we want to have as few flares as possible. But sometimes they still happen, and when they do, it's good to have a strategy in place. And I'm going to be talking in fairly general terms, because while EDS and Fibro are my personal experience, there is so little understanding of the mechanisms behind these conditions, that most strategies are going to be applicable to a number of conditions where crashes of exhaustion and pain are a feature. So what is a flare? A flare is a period where someone with chronic illness suffers increased symptoms for a short while. The

Wellbeing is not a competition

I want to have an in depth look at another aspect of the Free Living Fitness manifesto .  Wellbeing is not a competition. Sports are competitive by their nature, some fitness activities like body building are also competitive, but taking care of your body should not be, that's between you and your body. Often when I am in the gym, I see people lifting weights with bad form. They lift the weight, then drop it, not completing a full cycle of the rep. Or they lift too fast to properly get the benefit of using the whole muscle. Or they use form that reduces the isolation, for instance using more of their back than necessary in a shoulder exercise. All of these things achieve one "false" result: They allow you to lift a heavier weight.  Why lift in a way that reduces the efficacy of the exercise, gets you slower gains and potentially hurts you? Because the number on the weight is bigger, and being able to quote a big number puts you ahead in the gym competitio

Confused about your online fitness options? I'm here to help!

Isolation fitness is the new gym (for now) With Covid-19 measures limiting our movement at access to fitness, the internet has become a chaotic explosion of workout options. All the online retailers are sold out of home fitness equipment (ask me about my quest to find a pair of 20kg olympic plates...) and there is a definite shift in consciousness - I have never seen so many people talking about their exercise - and I surround myself with fitness people! In a way it is heartening to see a universal shift where people are becoming very aware of their health. It's necessary when, in all likelihood, many of us will have to fight a respiratory virus - the healthier you are to start with, the better your chance of a full recovery. Doctors have suggested we should prepare ourselves as we would for surgery. As a fitness professional it is always in my mind that I am "the front line of preventative medicine". Fitness, nutrition , recovery and a balanced mindset make measu

Step away from the scale. Why weigh ins and weight loss don't match.

I have a persistant bugbear when it comes to health coaching, and it's this issue of "weight". People are often talking about "losing weight", the number on the scale becomes a focus. "If only I could just get under 65kg" they say. Or worse I see advertised "buy this supplement and you can lose 20kg in a fortnight". I've found myself frequently sitting with a weight-focussed client and asking "if you were 2 dress sizes smaller, fit and toned, but you weighed the same as you do now, could you be happy with that?" You might be surprised how challenging a question that can be. For many people, particularly those who have struggled with weight loss, that number is the absolute key. They can wake up, feeling energised and full of life, slip into those jeans that used to live hopefully in the bottom of the drawer, check themselves in the mirror and love what they see... then they step on the scales, see the number is half a kilo

My top apps for supporting a healthy lifestyle.

The hardest part of making healthy choices and lifestyle changes is making it a habit. It's easy to make a decision to "eat better", "exercise more" or whatever your current plan is. It's a lot harder to stick to it on the rough days, for long enough that it becomes a habit and part of your life that you can't imagine being without. I love a bit of tech. I am a super geeky science nerd and finding ways to use technology to support my health and fitness makes me very happy. So with this in mind I thought I'd give a quick run down of my favourite smartphone apps for developing and maintaining healthy habits. Habitica I'm starting with this one because it's mad and I love it. Habitica is basically a to-do list app, but it's specially for the gamers among us. If you are familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, and all the games that grew out of that system and fantasy world, you will recognise Habitica. The app allows you to create 3 t