1. Squatting In Running Shoes. Shoes with compressible soles, whether that’s air or gel filling, will mess with your Squat technique and inhibit your maximal strength. Squat barefoot to experience the difference and then get yourself a pair of shoes with a hard, incompressible soles like Converse Chuck Taylor’s.
2. Walking The Weight Out By Stepping Forward. Do this and you’ll have to walk backwards after your heavy set of Squats to rack the weight. You’re going to have to twist your neck in order to check if the bar is in the uprights. It’s much easier and safer to rack the bar back in the uprights by stepping forward. That’s why you should always walk the weight out by stepping back.
Some gym managers don’t understand this and will have the Rack positioned in such a way that you have to walk the weight out by stepping forward to face the mirror. Ask them to put the Power Rack correctly (inform them it’s safer) OR just face your body away from the mirror (you don’t need it anyway, learn to feel how your body moves) so you can Squat correctly.
3. Lunging The Weight Out. Unracking the weight using a staggered stance, with one leg in front of the other, wastes energy (your front leg takes the full load) and builds bad technique habits. Always unrack the weight with both your feet right under the bar, as if you were doing the top portion of a Squat.
4. Squatting Partials. Nothing wrong with doing Quarter Squats as accessory work to strengthen your ligaments & joints or just to build confidence under the bar. But any guy who refuses to Squat parallel (hips lower than knees), is not only asking for knee/lower back injuries, he also needs to check his ego.
5. Loading The Bar Unevenly. Obviously ruins your Squat technique completely if one side is heavier than the other one. This almost always happens to the guys who aren’t focused because they talk or play with their phone too much. Doublecheck the weights and concentrate on your training.
6. Squatting The Weights Into The Uprights. Meaning: racking the barbell by Squatting the weights out of the hole and then straight into the uprights. This is dangerous with heavy weights because you could lose balance or miss the uprights. Always stand with the weight on your back for 2-3 seconds after your Squat set is done. Then rack the bar by walking forward.
7. Wrapping a Towel Around The Bar. Plenty of StrongLifts Members like Jake, Norman, Greg, Adam or Simon have Squatted over 500lb wearing a plain cotton t-shirt. If the barbell hurts your neck or upper-back, you do not need a towel or sissy pad or manta ray at all. You just need to put the barbell correctly on your back. Read my article how to master the low bar position on Squats.
8. Checking Your Form Using The Mirror. You can’t see if you’re hitting parallel when you Squat while facing the mirror. And using the mirror aside of you is a guaranteed way to twist your neck. If you want to check your technique, ask someone who knows for feedback or tape yourself like advanced lifters do.
9. Calf Raising The Weight Out. This is unstable, potentially dangerous with heavy weights, and you’ll lose upper-back tension. Just put the uprights one or two pins lower. And if your training partner is taller than you or you train in a public gym, remember the position of the uprights for your next Squat session.