HomeHealthFitnessDakota Johnson's Personal Trainer Taught Be How to Squat Correctly

Dakota Johnson’s Personal Trainer Taught Be How to Squat Correctly

  • I thought I couldn’t squat properly without lifting my heels because I have long thighs.
  • Personal trainer Luke Worthington showed me that’s not true, I just have to push my knees forward.
  • Worthington said the general advice to lean back when squatting doesn’t work for many people.

Squats are widely regarded as one of the best, most efficient exercises one person can do, but the general advice to sit back when performing it is wrong for many people, celebrity personal trainer Luke Worthington told Insider. Instead, people like me should push their knees forward, he said.

As they are compound exercises, squats use multiple muscles in the body. They are also considered one of the best moves for building strength; and, in addition to deadlifts and bench press, are the three most important tests in powerlifting.

Squats can be performed with body weight alone or with weights in a variety of ways.

Any balanced exercise program should include squats, because they’re one of the top five human movement patterns, alongside hinges, lunges, pushes and pulls, said Worthington, whose clients include Naomi Campbell, Dakota Johnson and Munroe Bergdorf.

However, many people get the wrong cue to keep their knees over their heels while keeping their torso upright and concentrating their weight on their heels, as if they were sitting on a toilet again, Worthington told me recently when I trained with him.

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Squats are full-body exercises that work the glutes, quads, and core, among other muscles, so this pose is thought to help use them properly. I had received this advice from other trainers, but this is only possible for people of certain proportions, such as those with longer bodies and shorter thighs, he said.

I thought I couldn’t squat properly without adjusting my posture, but Worthington, who is releasing a strength-training app designed primarily for women in January 2023, showed me how.

I thought I couldn’t squat properly without lifting my heels

Squats look simple at first glance, but performing them correctly can be a challenge, especially since everyone’s body is different.

As personal trainer Eugene Teo explained a YouTube video in July 2022, differently proportioned bodies will require a slightly different squat. For example, if you have long thighs (thighs) and a shorter body, you should fold your body to keep the bar above the middle of the feet, he said.

I have been lifting weights for over five years and had come to the conclusion that because of my long thighs and believed lack of ankle mobility, I had to lift my heels to perform a squat and not bend my torso all the way forward.

Rachel performs a back squat with heels raised.

Lifting my heels allowed me to keep my body more upright than it would otherwise be.

Rachel Hoesie

I knew I had to keep my torso as upright as possible to avoid putting pressure on my lower back, but with my feet flat on the floor I found myself having to bend over to avoid falling backwards. Lifting my heels by placing small weights under them pushed my center of gravity forward and allowed me to maintain my form which I thought was better.

A few months ago I squatted 100 kilos for the first time, with my heels raised. Teo said there’s nothing wrong with raising the heels, it’s just one way to essentially lengthen the lower leg relative to the upper leg, making it easier to keep the body more upright by changing the center of gravity.

A post shared by Rachel Hosie (@rachel_hosie)

Recently I started favoring front squats because the weight further forward helped me keep my body upright.

Rachel Hosie doing a front squat

Rachel does a front squat.

Rachel Hoesie

However, when I recently asked Worthington to review my technique, he showed me how to actually do a back squat with my torso more upright and my heels flat on the floor.

Pushing your knees forward into a squat helps keep the torso upright

After training with me and doing a mobility assessment, Worthington confidently told me there was no problem with my ankle mobility and, aside from the long thighs, I can perform a squat, with an upright torso, without lifting my heels .

I was skeptical but intrigued.

First, Worthington had me practice holding a kettlebell in a front stretch position (hold it in front of my chest). The first thing he told me was to push my knees forward, which went against everything I had previously learned about squatting.

Worthington told me that contrary to popular belief, the knees should go over the toes, and I should think about breaking the hips and the knees at the same time.

Then we tried it with an empty dumbbell. Before lifting the barbell off the squat rack, Worthington told me to use my lats by pulling the bar down as if I were doing a pull-up, keeping my elbows down.

Rachel with a dumbbell

Before squatting, I thought about pointing my elbows down and tightening my lats by pulling the bar down.

Rachel Hoesie

Pushing my knees forward allowed me to squat up and down, keeping my center of gravity over my feet and my feet flat on the floor.

Teo echoes Worthington’s point, saying that the more a person can bend their ankle and push their knees over their toes, the better they can hold their body upright.

Rachel crouches

Pushing my knees forward allowed me to squat with my heels flat.

Rachel Hoesie

I couldn’t believe it: I really don’t have a problem with ankle mobility. I had simply pushed my body weight too far back. After five years of lifting weights, I now know how to squat.



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