Why Do Squats Feel So Awkward? 21 Reasons Why & Ways To Fix
Squats are one of the most important exercises you can do to build strength and achieve a strong, healthy body.
But often when we start doing squats, they feel strange and even a bit awkward. You might find yourself asking why others appear to have such an easy time with them while you’re struggling to get your form right.
If that sounds like you, don’t worry! In this blog post, we’ll discuss why squats feel so awkward for some people – and what steps you can take to make sure your squatting stance and technique is as effective as possible.
Why do squats feel so awkward?
Squats are a great exercise, but sometimes for some people they can just feel downright awkward, even if they’ve been doing them for a while. So why is that? The most common reason would be improper form. There are quite a few moving parts to consider when doing a squat – your feet, knees, hips, spine, upper back and more. If any of these parts aren’t in the correct position or are moving incorrectly then it can cause you to lose balance and feel awkward. The bar placement and grip position can also be to blame, as they can affect how your body is able to move. If you have any range of motion (ROM) issues, joint problems, lack of back strength or a weak core then you may also struggle with the squat. Another common issue is not warming up adequately before squatting, leading to tightness in your muscles which can affect your form and cause discomfort. Additionally, pushing too hard or lifting too much weight can cause awkwardness when squatting.
There are numerous ways why squats might feel awkward and it’s important to identify what is causing the feeling. Once you figure out why it feels awkward, then you can make adjustments to improve your form and build a stronger squat. Check out the below to see if any of the points can help you improve your squat…
If you’re just starting out with the squat, they might feel strange at first. It often takes time to find your feet when first doing them or other exercises because you’re having to get used to different movements and body mechanics.
If you are new to this, the best thing to do before lobbing all those weight plates on the bar would be to get to grips with your form – practice without any weight and get used to the different parts of the squat.
Squats will no doubt be a shock to the system and you will be using up vast amounts of energy to complete the movement, so they will feel awkward, to begin with, because your body isn’t used to moving this way or reacting to the stimulus placed on it.
Let’s face it, if you were able to squat perfectly right from the beginning, there would be no need for this blog post, right?
It’s a challenging exercise that will take time, patience and dedication to master to the point of proficiency, but you will definitely see and feel the benefits, so stick with it.
Over time the exercise will feel more natural and muscle memory will kick in, so stick with it and enjoy the process.
Squats are a compound movement which means they work multiple muscle groups at once, making them more challenging than some other exercises.
Compound movements require more coordination and control, which can increase the feeling of awkwardness as your body is trying to figure out how to move all the limbs correctly.
It can be confusing for the body when it’s trying to coordinate so many different movements. This can lead to a feeling of awkwardness and imbalance.
However, it’s nothing to be worried about because with practice your body will become used to the movement and it will start to feel more natural.
Other compound movements include deadlifts, bench press and overhead press. These too may feel awkward in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start to enjoy them.
Practice makes perfect, so start off slow with a lighter weight and move on to heavier weights only when your form is 100% solid.
Improper form is the biggest culprit for a feeling of awkwardness or imbalance when squatting. This can be due to incorrect positioning of your feet, hips, knees and upper body.
As we have mentioned, there is quite a lot going on when performing a squat so it’s important to get the form right in order to reap the rewards.
Getting your form right is the difference between getting the most out of your workout and feeling frustrated because you don’t seem to be progressing.
Practise in front of a mirror or have a training partner take a look at your form and make sure you’re squatting correctly.
Even small adjustments to your form can make a world of difference. Start by focusing on these elements of your form:
The position of your feet can be the difference between a successful squat and a frustrating experience. Make sure your feet are wider than shoulder-width apart and pointing slightly outwards.
This will give you a strong and stable base from which to perform the movement. If your feet are too close together or pointed inwards, you will lose your balance and feel awkward, as your body will be fighting against its natural range of motion to complete the lift.
It will also reduce the stability of your hips and knees, which can lead to injuries and lots of frustration.
Pushing with toes
Many people make the mistake of pushing with their toes when squatting, but this can throw your body off balance and make you feel awkward.
Instead, focus on pushing through your heels to generate power from the bottom of the squat. This will help you to stay in control and feel more balanced as you complete the movement.
This is because when you push through your heels, the load is distributed across your whole foot, giving you a better base from which to squat.
When you push through your toes, the load isn’t distributed equally and can cause your balance to be off.
Related: Why Am I So Tired After Deadlifts?
Your knees should always track in the same line as your toes. If your knees are tracking too far in or out, this can lead to an imbalance and a feeling of awkwardness.
This is due to the fact that your body’s natural range of motion is affected, which then affects how the muscles, tendons and ligaments are working together.
Focus on pushing your knees outwards as you lower yourself down and tracking them in the same line as your toes. This will help you stay balanced and feel more comfortable during the movement.
Make sure your knees are soft when you go into the bottom of the squat and that they are tracking in line with your toes.
You need a solid base from which to work, so ensure your feet and knees are in the correct positions before you start adding weight to the bar.
Doing so will help you avoid any future frustrations and knee problems that could occur from incorrect tracking.
Your pelvis should be in a neutral position when squatting, with your glutes engaged. If you tilt your pelvis too far forward or back, then this can affect your balance and lead to a feeling of awkwardness.
Focus on keeping your pelvis in a neutral position and engaging your glutes as you lower yourself down into the squat. This will help keep your spine in a neutral alignment and create more stability in your body.
This might be problematic for those who have limited hip mobility, but regular stretching and foam rolling can help improve this.
If you have hip problems, you should focus on bodyweight squats before adding any external load, as this will ensure your form is correct and will also reduce the risk of injury.
Your spine should remain neutral throughout the movement, as this will help you stay balanced and stable.
If your spine is rounded or arched, this can cause an imbalance and make you feel awkward. Make sure to keep your back straight and engage the muscles in your upper back throughout the movement.
If it’s arched, then you will be putting too much weight on your toes and may be unable to keep your balance.
Whereas, if it’s rounded then you may be unable to control the movement or keep your knees in line with your toes.
This will help keep your spine in a neutral position and give you more control as you squat.
If you have back problems, then you may need to focus on bodyweight squats until your back is stronger and more flexible.
Leaning too far forward or backward can also cause an imbalance and make you feel awkward when squatting.
Focus on pressing your chest out and keeping it in line with the bar as you lower yourself down, without leaning too far forward or backwards.
This will help keep your spine in a neutral position and give you more control over the movement.
Pushing yourself up at an angle instead of horizontally can cause you to be unbalanced and more likely to get hurt.
You might find that you are leaning because one of the points above is off, which means your body is trying to compensate in order to stay balanced.
So make sure to double-check your form and ensure all the components are correct before you add any external load.
ROM issues or imbalances
If you have any range of motion issues or imbalances in your body, then this can also lead to an awkward feeling when squatting.
This is because your body is trying to compensate in order to keep you balanced and stable.
If you aren’t able to get the full range of motion when squatting, then you should focus on foam rolling and stretching the affected area, as this will help to improve your mobility and make squats less awkward.
You may also need to adjust the weight on the bar or focus on bodyweight squats until your body is stronger and more balanced.
If you have recently recovered from an injury or illness, your ROM will naturally be reduced, so take your time and ensure you don’t push yourself too hard, take it slow and focus on perfecting your form before trying to add weight.
If you don’t brace yourself properly and keep your body tight throughout the movement, then this can cause you to lose balance and feel awkward.
This is because if you aren’t bracing your core properly, then your body will be shifting around as you move which makes it difficult to stay balanced.
You must make sure your entire body is working together in order to stay balanced and move correctly.
Focus on engaging your core and keeping your body tight as you squat, this will help you stay balanced and give you more control over the movement.
If you’re having trouble keeping your body tight, then try doing wall squats to help you focus on maintaining good form and bracing your core.
Lack back strength
Something that you may have not thought of is that your back muscles need to be strong enough to support the weight of the bar as you squat.
If your back isn’t strong enough, then you may struggle to keep your balance and feel awkward.
Focus on doing back exercises such as rows, pull-ups and lat pull-downs to help strengthen your back muscles, as this will give you more control over the movement and make it easier to stay balanced.
As you may or may not know the posterior chain (backside of the body) is just as important when it comes to squats, so make sure you are giving your back the attention it needs.
One thing you could do to improve your posterior chain is to do kettlebell swings, glute bridges and hip thrusts, as these will help to strengthen the muscles in your back.
Related: Why do squats feel like cardio?
Your core muscles are also important for keeping your body balanced during a squat.
If your core is weak then it can be difficult to maintain control of the movement, which can lead to an awkward feeling.
To strengthen your core focus on doing exercises such as planks, crunches, and side planks.
These exercises will help to build your core strength, which in turn will give you more control over the movement and make squats feel less awkward.
As we mentioned being “too loose” earlier, it’s more than likely your weak core is to blame here, having a strong and engaged core will make a huge difference when it comes to squats.
So make sure you’re practising engaging your core throughout the squatting motion as this will make the exercise feel completely different and you might even see legit progress.
The bar placement can also be to blame for why squats feel awkward. If the bar is too far up your neck or is sitting on your shoulders incorrectly then this can cause a lot of discomfort and can make it difficult to keep your balance.
It’s important to make sure the bar is resting firmly on your shoulders in the correct position, this will help you to stay balanced and improve your form.
Also, if the bar is rested too low on your back then this can cause the weight to shift as you move, so make sure it’s in the correct position before beginning.
There’s nothing worse than a heavy barbell digging in your traps, so take a few seconds to make sure it feels comfortable and you’re good to go.
It might take a few sessions to find the most comfortable position for you, but once you do it will make a big difference to the way your squats feel and the results that you are able to achieve.
The grip position can also be to blame for why squats feel awkward.
Your hands should be placed wider than shoulder-width apart with the bar resting in your palms. If the grip is too wide or too narrow then it can make it difficult to keep your balance and control the movement, which can lead to an awkward feeling.
Not only that but holding the bar in the wrong position can hurt and put stress on your shoulder joint, because of this it is important to make sure your grip position is comfortable and that the bar is resting firmly in your palms.
Your grip should be firm but not too tight, experiment with different grip positions until you find the one that’s most comfortable for you.
Once again, it might take a few sessions to get the grip just right but once you do it will make a big difference in how your squats feel.
Lifting too much
If you’re lifting too much weight then you are going to struggle to keep your balance and maintain good form.
If your technique is suffering, then it’s time to lower the weight. Lifting lighter will allow you to focus more on perfecting your form, which will make the exercise feel less awkward and you might even see better results.
How many times have you seen people at the gym “ego lifting” and struggling to stay balanced? Don’t be one of those guys, focus on perfecting your form before adding more weight.
You might be able to squat the heavier weight, but your form will suffer and you won’t get the most out of the exercise.
So make sure your form is on point before adding more weight and don’t be afraid to lower the weight if it’s making the exercise feel awkward.
Another reason why squats might feel awkward is that you aren’t breathing correctly when you do them.
It’s important to remember to take deep breaths in and out throughout the exercise as this will help you to stay focused, keep your balance and stay in control.
You might be one of those people who hold their breath when under tension, if this is the case then it’s time to break this habit and instead focus on taking deep breaths in and out throughout your sets.
Breathing correctly will help to relax your muscles and improve your form, so make sure you take a few seconds to focus on your breathing before you start your sets.
Not only that but breathing correctly will also help you to avoid the “too loose” feeling too, which can throw off your balance and make the exercise feel quite awkward.
So make sure you’re taking deep breaths in and out throughout the exercise. This will help you to stay focused and in control and make the squat feel less awkward.
The last thing to consider is warming up before your sets.
A good warm-up will help you to loosen up your muscles and prepare them for the workout. Warming up also helps to increase your blood flow and oxygen levels, which can help with focus and balance during exercise.
If your muscles are cold then it’s going to make squats feel even more awkward, so make sure you’re taking a few minutes to warm up before doing your sets.
Not warming up can also have a bit impact on your range of motion, so make sure you’re doing some light stretching and dynamic movements before starting your workout.
Although squats can feel quite awkward at first, with a bit of practice and the right knowledge you should be able to get the hang of it.
Make sure you’re focusing on perfecting your form and breathing correctly, as well as warming up before each session. Doing all these things will help you to get the most out of your squats and make them feel less awkward. Good luck!
Do squats feel awkward to you? Let me know in the comment section below.