How to Squat

Let's cut the bullshit and stop the rigmarole and quit giving this the runaround, shall we? This joke internet column is purportedly about fitness, and that means that it is, before anything else, about squats. You want to talk about fitness without talking about squats? I will spit on your grave, after you die. That is an appropriate reaction on my part. This is that serious.

"But I've never done squats!" you wail. Well just stop wailing and learn how, that's all. Man.

First, find yourself a gym with a good squat cage. How do you know which gyms have good squat cages? They're the gyms that you pay money to attend, rather than the gyms that idiots pay money to attend and you scoff at derisively as you walk by. What are those people even thinking? I'll tell you what they were thinking: they weren't thinking.

Did you drink your NO-Xplode? Okay.

Approach the squat cage. (The squat cage just basically keeps you from dropping the hell out of the weights, okay? Don't get all concerned about the squat cage. "Do I go in this side? Or that side? How high do I set the pins? How high do I place the bar? Is it really a squat cage, or is it more of a power cage? How about just a squat rack, instead?" Man, don't even worry about that stuff!!) Duck your head under the bar. Let the bar lay across the back of your shoulders, around the bottom of your neck. You actually want that bar to be pressed against your trap muscles, but if you don't have trap muscles, don't even sweat it. Just put it where it's comfortable. Do not get one of those god damn foam wraparound things for the bar so the bar doesn't "hurt." Does the bar hurt? Good. The idea is to eventually allow the knurling on the bar to dig into the top of your back, producing a harsh red scar all the way across, as if you had been lashed by an angry electric octopus. How do you expect to get a scar with some big fucking foam roller on your bar? Throw that in the trash and never bring it back again.

Now. Reach up and grasp the bar with both hands, palms out. Don't be one of those guys with a super w i d e grip, with their fingers wrapped around the bar right next to the plates. What are you reaching for out there? Knowledge of god's will? Bring those hands in. You want your hands to grip the bar as close in to your shoulders as you can without making you whine about "Ow, my shoulder feels like it's going to dislocate." Man, stuff it! A good tight close grip will LOCK IN the bar. You don't want it sliding around up there. Imagine being locked in a stockade because your superstitious neighbors convicted you of witchcraft; this is the type of upper body stability you want to feel while holding your friend, The Squat Bar.

Now step back. Good. There you are, standing there, with a bar across your shoulders. Guess what that means? That's right buddy. You're ready to squat. You really walked yourself into the trap. There's no backing out now. "Oh... my cell phone is ringing." Too bad, because you're standing in the squat cage with a bar on your shoulders, and I've thrown your cell phone down the sewer grate. Might as well squat then.

Some people will tell you to look straight ahead as you squat. Some will tell you to look at a point five or ten feet in front of you on the ground. I'll tell you where you should be looking when you squat: into your soul. Into the depths of the fire inside, where pain and promise are one. Look into the place where hardcoreness resides. Gaze into the mirror: you should have a knitted brow, an expression of determination bordering on homicidal anger. You should look ready to snap. This may be because the weak muscles that stabilize your spine are, in fact, ready to snap. No matter. People will think you look tough. You're already winning the secret respect of the curl boys, and you haven't even done a god damn thing yet. Pretty sweet deal, for you. Now, stay tight. Make your chest big. Allow your lower back to form a pleasing arch.

A LOAD-BEARING ARCH THAT IS.

Turn your toes out at a 45 degree angle. TOES OUT. Now drop those hips. DROP THEM NOW. Maintain the arch in your back. Do not bend forward. SINK THOSE HIPS. Maintain good balance. KEEP THAT CHEST BIG. Descend down below parallel. "Oh, some sort of 'doctor' who doesn't even squat ever said that I shouldn't go below parallel." BELOW PARALLEL, GO THERE. "Hey look, I can 'squat' 400 pounds by bending my knees roughly 25 degrees and then raising back up." THAT'S NOT A REAL SQUAT. Squat down below parallel. Now: EXPLODE UPWARDS. Do not allow the weight to track forwards, forcing you to push through the front of your foot. Keep your weight back at all times. PUSH THROUGH YOUR HEELS. Push your god damn heels through the floor and kick the devil in the face. That is how hard you should be pushing, through your heels. (Technically speaking you want to push through your entire foot but people tend to go forwards and push through the front of their foot which is an indication that your entire form is off, so it's easiest to remember: PUSH THROUGH YOUR HEELS.) Keep the arch in your back. Keep your entire core and upper body firm. Do not shoot your hips up and let the weight stay in one place, doing nothing but raising your ass in the air, leaving you completely bent over, forcing you to then finish the movement by raising the entire weight with your back alone, eventually leaving you in traction. MAINTAIN YOUR ARCH. If you're an attractive woman, imagine me teaching you this by resting my hand on your tailbone, just barely higher than where sexual harassment would be clearly indicated, and telling you to push my hand up as you rise. "Why is he touching me?" you'd wonder. "Couldn't he just tell me that, without touching me there?" You'd never really be the same after that. Because you'd always remember: RAISE YOUR ENTIRE BODY AS ONE. You may notice that your knees will naturally track towards each other due to muscle imbalances, making you look like a knock-kneed fool. PUSH THOSE KNEES APART.

Stand up. Don't poop. Congratulations. You have squatted.

Repeat until hardcore enough.

(IN HELL.)

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