Improving your squat is a "forever learning process," says Melissa Alcantara.

By Faith Brar
Instagram/@fitgurlmel

A barbell back squat is one of the best strength exercises out there. It's one of the three key movements in powerlifting, a bodybuilding mainstay, and an essential for anyone who wants to feel like an expert in the weight room.

But form is everything when it comes to this movement, which is why Kim Kardashian's trainer, Melissa Alcantara shared a killer tutorial on Instagram to help you get the most out of your barbell squat. (Related: Here's What Most People Get Wrong About Biceps Curls, According to Kim K's Trainer)

To master the workout move, you have to focus from the very beginning—and that means unracking the bar properly. "Make sure both feet are planted on the ground and you're lifting by extending at the hips," Alcantara wrote in her post.

One thing most people overlook? Their wrists, notes Alcantara. "Make sure they're straight," she said.

Next, it's crucial to set your gaze in the right direction. "Don't look up or down or sideways," Alcantara wrote. Look straight ahead, "but keep your chin tucked," she added. "Look about 3-6 feet ahead of you and focus on one spot to keep your neck in line with your spine." (Did you know that squat therapy is a genius trick for learning proper squat form?)

Before descending into your squat, Alcantara says your feet should be in a comfortable position, whether "it's narrower or wider or with your toes slightly pointed out! Everyone is different [and] there is no one right comfortable stance," she explained.

Alcantara then debunked the myth that in order to squat properly, your knees can't go past your toes. "Make sure that your knees are in line with your toes," she says in the video. "This is super important, don't let your knees cave in, make sure you're pushing them outward especially on the way up! Does not matter if they're going past your toes even if your bodybuilding Olympic gold medalist grandma told you! Just keep them in line with your toes," she added in the caption.

But FYI, the form cue "don't let your knees go past your toes" can be helpful if you're not sitting your hips back and properly centering your weight in your mid-foot and heels when you squat.

Next, with your chest up, squat down in a straight line, explains Alcantara. "I see so many of these Instagram chicks sticking their asses out and their chest almost hitting their knees," she wrote. "That’s a damn NO NO [in] my book." (Here are 12 ways to spice up your squats for better results.)

The personal trainer ended her tutorial with one final warning: "Do not lock your knees at the top, or the bottom or on the side, or in your dreams," she wrote. "There are so many more things to pay attention to but these are some tips that have helped me along the way. Get your squat right, get your life right."

Once you've mastered the basic barbell squat, turn things up a notch and challenge yourself with our 30-day squat challenge that will totally transform your butt. We promise it won't disappoint.

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