Primal pattern: It was vital that our ancestors had the ability to squat properly or they would not have survived. *Photo supplied
Primal pattern: It was vital that our ancestors had the ability to squat properly or they would not have survived. *Photo supplied

This is the first article in the two-part edition on how to build a better squat.

Squatting is a primal pattern.

It is a pattern that was essential for survival in the Palaeolithic era.

Our ancestors had to squat to move heavy objects, build shelter and eat. If you couldn’t perform this movement without having to think about it, then there was a good chance you would probably starve to death.

Luckily nowadays, we don’t have to contemplate death if we cannot squat.

It’s a good job, as most of us cannot squat properly.

I’m not talking about being able to squat heavy or any fancy one-legged squats with a pirouette at the end.

I’m talking about a good old-fashioned functional squat pattern.

I see it in the gym all the time. You probably have as well…

Unfortunately, we’ve probably all seen those who use the Smith Machine (which shuts off any core stabilization anyway) performing what I can only describe as ‘knee bends’.

You’ll see the heels come off the floor, every limb wobbling and the knees shearing forward.

It just looks painful.

Or another alternative to the squat seems to be performing the good morning exercise. Excellent for strengthening the lower back but definitely not a squat.

It is in our gym culture to train muscles all the time but it’s movement, that really matters.

The body only knows movement not muscles.

Muscles are just the tissues that allow our bones to move.

Going back to your biology class, remember that the body is made up of the nervous system, muscular system and skeletal system and they all work in unison.

So should you.

The truth is, most of us just cannot squat with good form.

And those who think they can, decide to load themselves up with so much weight they end up hurting their knees and screwing up their back — and then blame it on squatting!

Functional movement screening

Don’t be that person.

Learn how to build a better squat by watching my videos online at and carrying out the following assessment by yourself.

Then you can embrace the squat and reap the rewards without a knee support or weight belt in sight.

The Deep Squat assessment allows us to break down the squat and figure out where we’re going wrong so we can build it back up.

We always need to mobilize before we can stabilize.

Quality stability is driven by quality proprioception.

The term proprioception is used to describe the sensory information that contributes to the sense of position of self and movement.

It’s the body’s way of telling the brain where it is. Which comes in useful.

Our proprioception cannot improve if we have limitations in mobility.

Follow the online videos to carry out the functional movement screening for the Deep Squat. All you need is a long stick — a dowel rod, mop handle or broomstick is ideal.

How to smash a score of 3 on the Deep Squat from Coconut Fitness on Vimeo.

If you manage to score a 3 then you can squat with good form and you are in a position to progress with the exercise.

How to earn an encouraging score of 2 on the Deep Squat from Coconut Fitness on Vimeo


To limp in with a score of 1 on the Deep Squat  from  Coconut Fitness  on  Vimeo.


If you only managed to score a 2, 1 or even 0 then start by performing the mobility exercises shown in the videos.

Next week in Part 2, I will show you how to stabilize for a better squat. 


Colin Ayliffe is a certified personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach with over 10 years experience in training clients. He graduated from the University of Surrey with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Science and is also a CHEK practitioner, golf biomechanic and is accredited by the  National Academy of Sports Medicine. Colin now blogs at

How to build your squat Perform

10 repetitions on each mobility exercise.
 Loosen up the ankles


Loosen Up The Ankles from Coconut Fitness on Vimeo.

Stretch the calves

Stretch the Calves from Coconut Fitness on Vimeo.

Open up the hips

Open Up The Hips from Coconut Fitness on Vimeo.

Get in a deep squat

Get In A Deep Squat from Coconut Fitness on Vimeo.

Mobilise the upper spine

Mobilise The Upper Spine from Coconut Fitness on Vimeo.