The squat. One of the most standard fitness exercises. When executed properly it effectively works muscles all throughout the front and back of the lower body. As fitness instructors, we cannot take for granted that everyone in our classes knows how to squat. I was at the gym this morning, not teaching, just working out. I noticed a man "squatting" while being lead by a personal trainer in a small group fitness setting. The man was doing EXACTLY what I tell all of my trainees in a Barre Intensity Barre Certification not to do; he was moving from the knees without recruitment of the hips.
Moving From the Knees vs. the Hips
Why Does It Matter?
Leading a squat with knee flexion makes the movement a quad dominant exercise and places a heavier load on the knee joints - something most of us do not need. Our goal as Barre Intensity instructors is to balance the hip musculature (hip flexors and hip extensors) by altering load distribution. When we can teach our clients to do this through movement we are assisting them increase joint and muscle balance which means decreased risk for injury and discomfort.
It's important to explain to our clients throughout the squat movement to flex from the hips FIRST (press the hips back & lean the torso slightly forward) THEN bend the knees. On the return movement up clients press through the heels and extend the knees and hips to return standing upright.
Cues You Can Use
Easier said than done; I know. As instructors we cue until we're blue in the face but there's always that one person who isn't picking up what we're putting down. Try to mix in a few of these cues to your next class.
For hip flexion:
- Press the hips back
- Create a crease at the hips
- Hinge the torso slightly forward
- Tip the pelvis forward
- Sit back onto a chair
For glute & hamstring engagement:
- Take the hips down to their lowest point
- Press through the heels (on the way down and up)
- Hips reset under the shoulders (on the way up)
- Squeeze the glutes at the top
- Widen your sit bones (one the way down) & narrow your sit bones (on the way up)
Learn more about the anatomy of barre by participating in our online Barre Anatomy Workshop. Its a great addition before or after your Barre Intensity barre certification. You'll broaden your understanding of anatomy and movement, and how they pertain to teaching a safe and effective barre class. If you're not ready to participate in the anatomy workshop but still want to learn more about the body, check out our Barre Intensity Anatomy Manual.