Master The Perfect Squat | Stretches And Exercises

Written by Jamie Bantleman

Perfect Squat

Squatting is looked at by many as the number one exercise for growing your legs, it engages both your hamstrings and quads as well having significant impact on your glute development. It is a vital exercise in both a bodybuilder and powerlifter’s programme, as well as athletes and just your average gym go-er. This is the exercise that when done correctly, will make an incredible impact on your physique. However, when done badly, it may lead to all sorts of problems and can cause great pain and aggravation.

overhead squat

Often when squatting we may find certain niggles or pains that can occur which will prevent us from lifting any significant weight. Particular pains or niggles may be:


1) Hip Flexor Issues

2) Lower Back Pain

3) Ankle Issues


Tight hip flexors are often the issue that causes a lot of pain through squatting at a reasonable depth. As the area tightens it decreases the range of movement at the hip and thus the body will begin to lose the benefits of squatting. When your hips are tight, the positioning in which you take when being at the bottom position in your squat is usually wrong due to the body leaning forward in the movement therefore increasing tension on the lower back.

female weight lifting

Other major issues when squatting comes from the ankle, due to it being the joint in which all stress from the exercise is passed through. Often you can see if the ankle is weak due to the instability at the bottom phase of the movement. You can often rotate outwards or inwards and this is something that should be avoided.


Before going into a squatting programme, I like to use a programme that will prepare the body. The session can include foam rolling the tight muscle groups such as targeting the hips, lower back, quads and hamstrings, as well as using a small dumbbell to roll the bottom of the foot to try and release tension from that area. Also going through some key stretches on your hip flexors can create more opportunity for increased range of motion.

Exercises in the programme should also include the likes of Front Elevated Split Squats, Lying Leg Curls, Poliquin Step Ups and High Step Ups. These are exercises that improves the stability of the joint and increase strength and endurance in the muscle tissue to help improve the quality of your squat session.


When progression is seen at this stage and your body is very strong in these movements, only then I would advise to begin squatting. Initially this phase can include some simple heels elevated dumbbell squats, which will help you in the movement and improve the way in which your body moves in that particular exercise. Assessing how this feels, taking the elevation away at the heel is then the next step to progress towards a barbell squat. At this point, your feet will be flat to the floor and once again your body will be battling with the possible instability.


Moving forwards, the aim is always to move to a barbell back squat. I would usually recommend when beginning a squat with a barbell for the first time to revert back to elevation of the heel due to the balance change when a bar is placed on your back rather than in your hands at the side of your torso.

overhead squat

  Squat Prep – Stage 1
Order Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
A1 Lying Leg Curl 4 8 3110 10s
A2 Front Foot Elevated Split Squat 4 8 3110 60s
B1 Incline Back Extension 4 8 3110 10s
B2 Single Leg Press 4 8 3010 60s
C1 Seated Leg Curl 4 8 3010 10s
C2 Poliquin Step Up 4 8 2010 60
Squat Prep – Stage 2
Order Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
A1 Heels Elevated Dumbbell Squat 4 8 3110 10s
A2 Lying Leg Curl 4 8 3110 60s
B1 Low Foot Leg Press 4 12 3010 10s
B2 Split Squat 4 8 2010 60s
C1 High Step Up 4 8 3010 10s
C2 Leg Extension 4 15 3110 60

Squat Prep – Stage 3
Order Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
A1 Heels Elevated Barbell Squat 4 8 3110 10s
A2 Lying Leg Curl 4 8 3110 60s
B1 High Foot Leg Press 4 12 3010 10s
B2 Dumbbell Walking Lunges 4 12 2010 60s
C1 Seated Leg Curl 4 12 3010 10s
C2 Leg Extension 4 15 3110 60

There is no set point in which you should be doing each individual programme, invariably I would usually recommend 2-3 weeks on each stage if repeated twice per week to ensure you are very strong in each movement. Once each of the three stages are complete, you are likely to be in a good position to move onto barbell squats and have the ability to slowly increase the weight to get to your desired goal.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Andy Griffiths

Andy Griffiths

Writer and expert

Andy's journey in fitness started during his studies at Leeds Becket University in 2003, working in the university campus gym, he got a taste for a life in fitness. In the past 17 years, he has developed through various roles and has built a detailed experience in developing one-to-one clients, fellow team members and group fitness programmes in mainstream and boutique facilities. Training endurance athletes, martial arts athletes and simply those wanting to build a healthier life, he has built some great experiences and is now in a fantastic position to share what he has learnt with you. Being able to engage beginners into exercise regimes he feels is essential but has the ability and experience to adapt training techniques for those more experienced so everyone learns something new. He strongly feels that if you believe you are capable, you commit to achieving your goals that you will be successful!

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