If you want to pick something up off the ground, you have two options: hinge at the hips or squat down. There’s no question that the full squat is an essential, Primal movement, and yet many folks in modern, industrialized society are unable to perform one. Kids have good squat form (just watch them at play), but their parents are stiff at the hips with rounded backs and tight knee joints. Many more have been taught – by health experts and personal trainers – that the full squat is dangerous, that it will destroy your knees with wear and tear and render you incapable of normal activity. They say a half-squat is perfectly adequate, or, better yet, get rid of the squat altogether and use the leg extension machine! Disregard these “experts.” You need to squat. You don’t need to use a ton of weight (or any!), but you do need to be mobile and flexible enough to reach a full squat below parallel.
Full squat – dangerous? Tell that to the elderly folks in Southeast Asia comfortably resting on their haunches with ease. Tell that to modern hunter-gatherers who use the full squat as their default resting position. Tell that to professional power-lifters squatting under heavy weight for dozens of years. The problem is not with the movement; it’s with our lack of flexibility and mobility. In order to be truly fit, it’s important that we relearn how to perform a proper, full squat.
How to Do the Basic Squat
Stand with a comfortable stance. Most will prefer their feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with toes turned out at a slight angle.
Lower yourself by reaching back with your butt while maintaining a strong lower back. Keep your knees aligned with your toes and your toes on the ground.
Chest up, upper back tight, eyes looking forward and slightly down, head in a neutral position. Maintain a nice cohesive line along your spine.
Go just below parallel, so that your butt drops below your knees.
Come back up by pushing through the heel.
Things to Remember
Don’t let your knees bow inward, or risk potential injury. Think of actively shoving your knees outward on the descent so that they track over your toes.
To visualize driving through the heel, try lifting your toes off the ground the first few reps.
Thirty seconds or so of the Grok squat stretch is a great way to prime the pump for your squat workout.
Watch this video on proper form and technique for the first 4 of 9 total squat movements in the PBF Lift Heavy Things bodyweight progression.
Find out where you should begin in the squat progression by taking the self-assessment test found in Primal Blueprint Fitness and then get started today!
About the Author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.