Do You Squat on Your Toes? Here's The Fix
<--- Quality Air Squat by Jeff!
Air Squats. Wallballs. Back Squats. Goblet Squats. Lunges. Even overhead moves like Push Press and Push Jerk. Do you end up on your toes at any point in the movement? Has a Coach ever told you to "send your butt back" or "stay on your heels"?
Being "on your toes" is one of the most common faults in functional fitness. It can be very obvious with your entire heel lifting off the ground, or very subtle with only a slight change in pressure from your heel to your toes.
There are three main reasons for this:
1 - Awareness. Sometimes athletes just don't realize they are on their toes, and a simple cue like "stay on your heels" fixes the issue.
2 - Core Fatigue. As a long workout progresses, sometimes peoples core fatigues first. When this happens, you see their chest dip forward, and the body-weight follows, and pushes them onto their toes. Sometimes a cue like "keep your chest up" helps fix the issue, but more often, it requires doing more core work (think planks).
3 - Quad dominance. This is often the underlying problem for many people. I'll explain more below.
Your legs have two sides - a front and a back. The front (anterior), refers to your quadriceps muscle. The back (posterior) refers to your hamstrings and glutes (butt) muscles.
More often than not, people today have what is called quad dominance. It means that when doing activities, their quads do the majority of the work, while their hamstrings and glutes remain inactive.
This is not how it should be. Your hamstrings and glutes (posterior chain muscles) are WAY stronger than your quads. They SHOULD be doing work. But often due to life in the 21st century, we sit at a desk, we sit on the couch, we sit in the car ... all of these "activities" shut off and weaken our posterior chain. The muscles literally forget how to work. So, when we get up from the chair, the couch, the toilet, the car, people lean forward, and push off using their quads, reinforcing the quad dominance.
It's not until these people come to class, and a Coach says "Hey John, try sending your butt back to stay on your heels more" that people learn of the issue. Sometimes that will fix it, but more often, it will need a little extra work. Here are a few things you can do before class that takes 5 minutes that will help to get the hamstrings and glutes working!
Weighted Hip Raises
We typically do these in our warmups before we workout, but if you are quad dominant, you need more. Grab a bench. Have your upper back rest on the bench, with your body perpendicular to the bench. Take a small dumbbell, and rest it on your hips. Then proceed to do high volume hip raises. For example, 5 sets of 20. Think about pushing through your heels and really squeezing your butt muscles. Keep your core tight during these reps! Demo movement
In functional fitness, we do exercises that involve multiple joints. There is great benefit here. But sometimes when doing corrective exercises it is necessary to single out specific muscles. For this exercise, there are several ways to do it, but I prefer to lay on the ground on my stomach, and put a band on my heels that is attached to the rig. Then I pull my feet to my butt my contracting my hamstrings. Same as the hip raises, think light weight and high volume, 5x20 for example. Demo movement
Tempo Air Squats
Do these with great attention to detail. Try to take 5 seconds for the "down", pause for a second at the bottom, and then pop right up. The key? Staying on your heels! If you feel yourself shift forward on your toes, stop where you are, see if you can fix it, and if you can, keep going. If you cannot fix it, come back up and try again. Sometimes it's a matter of changing a habit, and in order to do that, you really need to slow down and pay attention to your movement and what muscles are working.
If you squat on your toes and need help fixing it beyond the above suggestions, just ask a Coach or shoot me a message!