By Sebastian Oreb
When it comes to strength training, technique is everything.
But is there a one-size-all fits approach when it comes to technique?
Well, the short answer is – yes and no.
There are rules and guidelines that help us define “good technique”, but at the same time, the correct technique for a given lift will look different on each and every lifter.
If you’re confused already, then don’t worry because I will explain it all below – but first, we should take a moment to define what I actually mean when I refer to “good technique”.
“Good technique” is a bit of an arbitrary term, but generally speaking we can define it as the most efficient way for our body to move a weight from Point A to Point B. The most efficient technique will also be the safest movement pattern, and fortunately for us, it is also the technique that has the most potential for strength.
When we break each exercise down, there are typically some “non-negotiable” rules that everyone should follow, but we also see some individual variations between lifters. So, there is not a complete “one-size-fits-all” technique, but there are definitely some core rules that I highly recommend that everyone adheres to.
For example, although I will teach the exact same squat cues to each lifter, and some of these cues are “non-negotiable”. Each lifter has different shapes and proportions and this means that the technique might look quite different from one person to the next.
Below are the cues that I teach for a low bar squat:
- Grab the barbell as close as your shoulder mobility allows
- Place the barbell on the shelf created by the rear delts
- Pull the elbows back and shoulder blades down to engage all the right muscles of the upper back
- Unrack the weight and walk out to your comfortable stance
- Look straight ahead, reaching the crown of your head towards the ceiling
- Initiate the movement by spreading the floor
- Pushing the knees out in the same direction as the toes
- Squat down as deep as your mobility allows, maintaining a neutral pelvis and therefore a neutral spine throughout the lift
If a room filled with lifters all performed the cues above, side by side, each lifter’s technique would look different from the person beside them – even though they would all be squatting correctly and with the same cues!
One of the most noticeable differences that you can see between lifters is their torso angle. Some lifters can maintain a very upright squat position, whilst other lifters will present with a more bent over torso angle – however both groups should be presenting with a neutral spine (a non-negotiable).
So although each lifter in the room will be following one of my favourite cues, to “reach the crown of the head to the ceiling”, this will look different from person to person, depending on their different proportions, strengths and weaknesses. If the cues are applied well, each position is still correct!
Now, we apply that to all aspects of the squat, from person to person, and you have a room filled with lifters all performing a squat with “good technique”, and whilst every person would technically be squatting correctly, it will present differently on everyone.
Keep this in mind when critiquing and cueing both your own and your clients squats!
Check out Sebastian Oreb’s Strength System International Certifications to learn the core fundamentals of technique and program design for strength development.