The squat is a foundational movement and is a building block to many movements we perform. Yet as foundational as it is, most people perform the squat wrong. I believe this is due to poor posture and a lack of proprioception, knowing where your body is in space.
If you are someone that tends to drop their chest and round their lower back at the bottom of the squat, then this exercise is for you: the Lateral Lunge.
This is a great exercise because you can essentially load up the movement and build strength and flexibility simultaneously. Instead of always performing a couch stretch or throwing a band around your hip, warm up with the lateral lunge to remain active throughout the movements.
The key benefits to this exercise are:
Deeper depth in your squat
To regain your proprioception of your midline, you will want to start with a PVC pipe on your back. This will ensure you have a neutral spine and will drill it into your brain what it should feel like. You want to maintain 3 points of contact the entire time throughout the movement with the PVC pipe touching your head, mid-back, and butt. If at any point, the 3 points of contact are lost that means that at some point you went into over-extension or you rounded your low back. Only go as deep as the 3 points of contact remain, and overtime you will gradually increase your depth.
You will want to make sure your stance is wide enough so that your hips do not feel pinched in the front and maintain the knee over your toes at all times.
Try to remain active the whole time sliding from side to side without standing all the way up until you are completely done with your reps. Warm up with 3 sets of 5-8 repetitions on each side.
Once you master the PVC pipe and understand what a neutral spine feels like, you can progress to Goblet Lateral Lunges. I would start with no more then 15lbs when you start this exercise.
Holding the kettlebell in front of your body will help counterbalance you and will help get to the back of the hip. You may notice you can get a little bit lower in the lunge when holding the weight. I would start with the same repetition scheme as the PVC pipe Lateral Lunge and only progress into more repetitions if form is PERFECT.
So next time you have back squats, front squats, or even just air squats in your workout, think about throwing in Lateral Lunges into your warm up with a PVC pipe to start making improvements in your squat form and notice your PRs will go through the roof!