Annabel DaSilva is a fitness model and bodybuilder, who is also an advocate for female weightlifters. After struggling with body dysmorphic disorder and bulimia during her initial modelling days, she took matters into her own hands about her mental and physical well being. Since then Annabel has been committed to building a healthy mind and body by working out regularly, eating healthy, and having a positive outlook on life.

In this video, Annabel talks on one of the fundamental exercises – squats. Whether you are using weights or are doing bodyweight squats, if your form is incorrect it can lead to injuries. Here is Annabel’s take on the five squat mistake people make and how to correct them.

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1.  Heels come off the ground

If you go in for a squat and your heels start coming off the floor, then you need to put the weights back on the rack and get properly grounded. The heels are one of the key pressure points for proper weight distribution. When your heels come off the floor it will cause problems with your joints and muscles, increasing your chances of injuring your knees and lower back. And the main reason why you need to get this corrected is that even if you are squatting, it is not doing anything for your glutes or hamstrings.

Fix it: Heels coming off is a common mistake that occurs in people who have poor ankle mobility. Instead of jumping into a weighted squat, try and perfect the bodyweight squat first. Support yourself by using resistance bands when doing bodyweight squats. Once you get a hand of this then progress to goblet squats, and eventually barbell squats.

2. Knees Caving In

Many believe that shoving the knees far out is better than pushing them inwards. This inward-knee squat puts all the pressure on the knees and leaves it in a very vulnerable position, especially under a heavy squat. While a weakness in the quads could be a reason for poor form, the main reason for your knees caving inwards has to do with weak hips and unengaged glutes.

Fix it: To curb this problem, train with some resistance bands around the knees to make it easier to activate the hips during the squat. As you are squatting down, concentrate on pushing your knees out. If your glutes are on fire, then that means that these squats are working. To strengthen your hips further also do banded walks and hip abduction exercises.

3. Sway from side to side on the way up

Do you feel your thighs slightly sway when you go down for a squat? If you have this lateral shift occurring when you squat, try adjusting your foot position by turning the toes out on the side your shifting towards. The reason behind this could be because of tight hip flexors. Monitor which side you sway when you come up from the squat. If you sway to the left then you have tightness in the right hip-flexor.

Fix it: Again, you need to ease up on the weights. Strengthen your hip flexor with some stretching. If you don’t feel your hips swaying after practising the bodyweight squat a couple of times, then you can safely give the barbell squat a shot.

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4. Hyperextended Hip At The Top 

Posterior pelvic tilt also commonly known as “butt wink” refers to the moment at the bottom of a squat when the pelvis begins to rotate backwards and slip under the body. This is solely because you have a weak posterior and poor hip mobility.

Fix it: Annabel advises to start off with box squats instead of using weights. These squats will build pressure on your glutes and lower back, further strengthening it. When the proper form is employed, the hips are trained to drop more downward than backward, which improves mobility and minimizes butt wink.

5. Rounded Back

Another common blunder that many beginners do is jut out their shoulders and hunch their back. Annabel says that this rounded back occurs due to tightness in the pectoralis minor and the neck muscles. This makes you simply hold up the barbell instead of pushing it into your back.

Fix it: Incorporate stretches for your neck and pec muscles. With the help of resistance bands, engage your shoulder and the chest for a deep stretch. As for the neck, simple neck rotations and shoulder stretches should ease the tightness.

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