So I was in the gym last week where I saw a guy frantically squatting with a swissball arched to his back, ball pressed to the wall. He had two dumbells in hand, each around 10 kg. He squatted with the ball, and down he went. I was curious. Who told him that loading weights and squatting with his back against a swissball wedged against a wall was a good thing? I asked, ‘where are you feeling the force of the squat?’. The bloke was unsure. He then piped up and said, ‘I’m strengthening my glute muscles’ he said. Right. He wasn’t, of course. He was, in fact, working his quad muscles and very little else. Think about the line of force and centre of mass whilst resting/squatting with a swissball against a wall.
Because he was continuously pushing backward to keep the ball against the wall and trying to keep the dumbells stable, he was putting a hell of amount of force through his knee joints. His gluteals had no way to saying ‘hey, what about me?’ as he managed to isolate them by loading up his quadriceps and putting force through his knee ligaments and tendons instead.
So what’s my point? Think about where you are feeling the exercise. In this situation the guy wanted to target his gluteals but was actually working the wrong muscle group, performing the wrong exercise and was probably half way to injuring himself thanks to excessive loads. Sometimes simpler is better.
Get your squat technique correct and practice squatting with nothing more than your body weight. The main goal of strength-based exercises is to increase the strength in your muscles and the ability to produce as much force as you can whilst ensuring quantity trumps quality.
Allow your muscles to develop as much force as possible through a range of motion, giving you the right foundation required before you decided to ‘load up with weights’.
The strength built can later be transferred to power which is critical in a lot of movements we perform daily and in sport.