a happy soul

how taking care of your body will allow your soul to achieve a higher level of happiness

Squat or Pancake?


If I want my body to be as fit as it can be or to be at a certain fitness level, I need to exercise. In order to exercise efficiently and safely, I need to perform those exercise movements in the correct way. I found that my body wasn’t performing certain exercises correctly. (Sad face). What I consider to be a very basic movement of the human body, I wasn’t able to do correctly…..the SQUAT!  Everyone knows what a squat is…but are you doing it correctly? There is always a proper technique for every movement and the biggest obstacle to having the proper technique is not being weak, but having the mobility.

The Pancake is a more accurate title of what my previous “squat” position was. My hip flexors and hips wouldn’t allow me to go any lower and my lower back wasn’t flexible enough to allow my torso to be more upright. My body physically couldn’t go any lower and if I looked up any further I thought I was going to fall over backwards. It was UBER frustrating.


Pancake Form

WOW! The above pictures looks a lot like the one below…no bueno…


Actual Pancakes

I’m only 24, so I’m not elderly by any means, but my body’s capabilities have definitely changed. I realized, if I don’t keep up the maintenance, this physical vessel will only become more stiff and more annoying to deal with.   I see my little cousins who are in cheer and dance and they are the most flexible human beings I have EVER seen (you little contortionists, you). I know I’ll never be able to revert my body to the 6 year old noodle body they have, but I can get as close as I can. So I made a game plan to become more flexible.


Perform a squat with proper form
1. Pinpoint parts of the body that are tight or immobile
2. Select stretches that target those muscle groups
3. Incorporate those stretches in a 15-20 minute warm up before every workout.

Game Plan in Action

Erica’s How:

1. Muscle groups that are tight: Hips, hip flexors, lower back

2. Stretches for Hips: Deep lunge stretch, Fire hydrant circles

Stretches for Hip flexors: Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Stretches for lower back: Backbend, Overhead body weight squat

Front view of deep lunge stretch

Front view of deep lunge stretch

Side view of deep lunge stretch

Side view of deep lunge stretch

Fire Hydrant Circles

Kneeling Hip Flexor stretch

Kneeling Hip Flexor stretch



Overhead Squat

Overhead Squat

 I added the stretches listed to my daily warm up routine and over a course of a few weeks, I was able to tell my squat was getting more effortless! SCORE!

Sample of my warm up routine

10 overhead squats (using broomstick,pvc pipe, anything a little light)

10 push ups

Fire Hydrant Circles (20 circles per leg, 10 in each direction)

Repeat 3 times


Deep Lunge stretch 30 seconds per side

Kneeling hip flexor stretch 30 seconds per side

Other static stretching as needed

Finish out holding the back bend for about 1 minute, break it up into 20 or 30 second intervals if needed

Final result!

Final result!

Some videos to help find that proper technique for you

Squat Part 1

Squat Part 2

Summary: Pick what part of your body you want to be more flexible, pick just a few stretches and implement almost every day and definitely before every work out. It takes time to change your body but it is totally worth it! Once you start seeing results you’ll be addicted to see how you can change your body.

Have these stretches helped you with your squat position? Anything else that you’ve tried that has worked wonders?







Pancake Image Source : http://blogs.dailybreeze.com/fooddrinkthink/2014/03/04/free-short-stack-on-tuesdays-national-pancake-day/



Author: Erica Van Treese

I live an exciting, adventurous life with my husband Ben (he can take credit for the adventurous part). We live in little ol' Columbus and we just love this city! I'm an organizer with OCD (self-diagnosed). My husband turned me into a crazy water ski competitor and taught me how to jump off a 5 foot ramp going 32mph to see how far I can go, and sometimes I don't land the way I should (The whole ski community is a little coo coo, but I love them). I love pizza, and when I proclaim my love for pizza all my friends go "We know". My favorite thing is when my family and friends gather for a meal, and there is banter and wine. I love art and looking at beautiful things and I believe every item of decor in a home should have a meaning and a story behind it. I love food and exercising, but just like any other person there are days I really don't feel like going to the gym or I just rather throw in a pizza in the oven for dinner (and sometimes I do). This blog is a reflection of my love for being happy and my journey on eating right and exercising to achieve a higher level of happiness.

2 thoughts on “Squat or Pancake?

  1. I love the practical, how-to approach of your articles. As a 47-year old guy who isn’t nearly as flexible as he used to be I appreciate the great tips on stretching (and some exercises I’ve never seen). Oh, and the pancake picture made me hungry for pancakes. And pancakes make my soul happy, so thanks for that, too. 😉

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