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.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What's the deal with yoga and hypermobility?

I wanted to address a question today that keeps coming up on various hypermobility and EDS forums that I frequent. It comes up so often in fact that I feel like I have to write this all up in one place, to save me 1000s of key strokes of individual responses and distil some of my opinions and thought processes on the matter.

It always goes like this. Someone asks a question like "I've just been diagnosed with hypermobility, I've been told I can't do yoga anymore..."

The responses are always a mixture of "yes, my doctor/physio told me yoga was the worst thing I could do for my hypermobility" and "I do yoga and it's been the best thing for my hypermobility".

So what gives?

Well, I'm firmly in the "yoga is useful" camp, and I have to disclose that. I'm a yoga practitioner of around 20 years and a perinatal yoga teacher, as well as a personal trainer and bendy person.

While I have the deepest respect for the medical professio…

I'm an intelligent grown-up, so why can't I eat like one?

Nutrition is complicated.
The rules change all the time. One minute we are told a food is bad, the next it's good. It's like scientists can't make their minds up!

Fat does't make you fat. Sugar is toxic. Undereating puts you in starvation mode. But you can "hack" your metabolism with this one weird trick.....

Of course all of this is false, or at least such a gross reduction of the truth that it is open to extreme misinterpretation. Put it out in plain sight and it becomes very clear that it doesn't hold water. So why are we believing this? Why are people telling us this, and most importantly; why as educated, intelligent adults who are perfectly capable of identifying a healthy plate of food, are we still struggling to consistently eat well?

The rules of healthy eating.
Healthy eating is not at all complicated. It's actually so obscenely simple that when I spell it out you're going to go "well tell me something I didn't know" and r…

Getting it done

My goodness I've been up to my ears recently!

A bunch of work came to a close, I took on some more, and then some other stuff came up and turned what I was expecting to be a fallow period into a flurry of tasks and deadlines.

And because of this, the several blogs I have on my to-do list, remain not done.

But I thought I would check in quickly and talk to you about how I get through those mad to do lists, and avoid getting bogged down by small stuff - because it was a hard lesson to learn.

Left to my own devices, I am both a procrastinator and a perfectionist. I want things right, but sometimes that means they don't get done.

I also suffer from social anxiety. In some ways this is an advantage when I work primarily in connecting with people, It makes me mindful in the way I communicate, and empathic with their uneasiness when it comes to the deep talk. It also means I really need a kick up the butt to reach out, or to get communication done, I need it to be right. Is it tactfu…

Training Ehlers Danlos Athletes - a primer for the Fitpro.

When you have a rare health condition, it's pretty exciting when you encounter someone who knows about it. Even more so when you encounter people who are interested in it and more importantly, understanding how to bridge the gap and work with it.

This is why I am really happy to be seeing more and more fitness professionals asking "I have a client with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, what do I need to know?"

As a fitpro, and athlete living with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome I am always happy to chat to trainers looking to broaden their understanding, and as I am often answering the same questions, I thought it would be good to do a write up.


Quick disclaimer before we start - I'm not a medic, and this is not for medics. I'm going to provide you with as many references as I can, but please seek specific medical input from your/your client's health care professionals. And with that we get to our first point.

Scope of practice.
Quick, check your job title. Are you a personal tr…

Training with Fibromyalgia - a primer for Fitness Professionals

Fitness and Fibromyalgia
The second of my posts about training clients with chronic illness (the first on EDS is here)

Learning how to achieve fitness in a chronically ill body was first my way of life, and later, my profession; as I train or programme for a number of Personal Training clients. I have EDS and Fibromyalgia (which commonly presents alongside EDS).

While the physiology and mechanisms behind EDS are relatively well understood, at least in terms of recognising the roles collagen plays in our bodies and the effects of an anomaly, fibromyalgia is a bit of a tricky one. The diagnosis, causes and management of fibromyalgia are not very well understood, and while progress is being made in terms of recognising physiological markers etc, we are still very much in the dark.

One thing that is generally agreed on however, is that exercise is good therapy for fibromyalgia, and that's where we come in.


Scope of practice
Here we go again...

Fitness professionals are there to help …