The squat is the holy grail of leg and glute-building exercises, and forms the basis for so many others – but it's also easy to get wrong.
"A lot of people struggle with squatting because they lack range of motion and/or strength in these joints," says Dr Ailish McLaughlin, who has a PhD is exercise physiology and is a personal trainer at The Foundry. Which is why, she says, training your hips, knees and ankles should be your first stop on the road to building a better squat – and a stronger lower body.
In this workout, McLaughlin will show you how. Grab your workout mat, some water, and scroll on for her targeted stretch and strength class.
Meet your PT: Dr Ailish McLaughlin
What's your favourite exercise?
"I always say the best exercise is the right one. The right one for the person, their body and what they are trying to achieve. There is no magic exercise, just the one that suits the individual doing it."
Which exercise do you think is the most overrated?
"A random one – doing an exercise for the sake of it and not for a specific outcome. It's always important to know why you are doing what you're doing and what the purpose is."
Give us your best training tip...
"CARs, but not the ones you drive! It stands for 'controlled articular rotations', which is really just a fancy name for active and controlled joint circles. The best thing you can do for your long and short term physical health is to maintain the range of motion and health of your joints.
"Injury rates are on the incline because we lose good joint function and range of motion due to the sedentary and convenient lives that we lead. A daily, full body CARs routine of less than 10 minutes can be enough to keep our joints moving well."
What words do you never want to hear again?
"'Go hard or go home'. There's so much emphasis on always maxing out training – it's as though, if you're not in a crumpled heap after your workout, you didn't work hard enough. But from a fitness, health and even body composition point of view, low-intensity exercise is massively under-utilised! I think the majority of our training should be at a lower effort level with plenty left in the tank afterwards and reserving ALL OUT efforts for a small percentage of our sessions."
Ailish's stretch and strength squat workout
Hip CARs (CARs = controlled articular rotations)
Part 1: Bear-sit position
Hip external rotation and abduction stretch
Hip flexion passive range holds
Part 2: Half kneeling position
Knee flexion stretch and isometric strength
Ankle dorsiflexion stretch and isometric strength
Part 3: Deep Squat
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