Knowing Squats – Rules and Squat Examples

Do You Know Squat?

Whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight, squats could be your best go-to exercise. The problem is, squatting is also one of the most difficult exercises to do properly. Different squats will load the main joints and muscles around those joints differently depending on style, bar placement, and weight distribution. Improper squats are the quick road to pain and injury.

General Rules of Squats

The main considerations for the proper squat technique are torso angle and shin angle. The alteration of those two variables will be the main way you can tell which joints are being loaded more and in which way. Here are some rules to keep in mind:

  1. The more vertical the torso, the more angled the shin in a squat. The more angled the torso, the more vertical the shin.
  2. When the torso is more vertical, you have more compression of the spine, less shear, and more stress on the knees.
  3. When the torso is more angled (and shins are more vertical) you will be loading the spine and hips more and the knees less, generally speaking.


Let’s examine two different variations of squatting and discuss how the different areas of the body are stressed differently from one to the other.

You can use this information as a way to change the variation of squatting you use depending on what area you want to stress more or less. If someone is dealing with knee pain, as an example, you could try performing a squat variation that stresses the knees less and subsequently the back more.

The fix: Put simply, do your mobility work. Here are Harris’s go-to mobility exercises:

  • Hurdle Mobility

  • Deep Goblet Squat Holds (use a light weight with 5-second holds)

  • Overhead Squats

  • Fire Hydrants

  • Glute Activation (Glute Bridges, Cook Hip Lift)

  • Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

A fun routine for the summer can include squats too! See our Sandy 7 Beach Routine including Prisoner Squats!