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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.


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