When done right, the squat can give you a stronger lower body and fortify your core! Squats can help improve your body’s overall strength, posture, balance, coordination and flexibility as it engage a wide range of muscle groups such as your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, hip abductors, calves, and back. Doing your squats right will give you toned thighs and a nice butt too.
Unfortunately, most people are squatting the wrong way which could put unnecessary stress on your knees and back, and have less positive effect. That’s why you need to perfect it to get these awesome squat benefits!
This low impact exercise is easy to do and all you need is your body weight.
5 Steps To Nailing A Squat
Tip: Do this in front of a mirror to check your form. A good form is imperative to every exercise.
1. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and your arms down by your side or out in front of you for balance. Roll your shoulders back and keep your chest up. Don’t hunch or roll your back, keep your back straight to avoid straining your lower back.
2. Lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Put your body weight on your heels and never let your knees go over your toes.
3. While your butt starts to stick out, make sure your chest and shoulders stay upright, and your back is straight. Face forward with your eyes looking straight ahead for a neutral spine.
4. Try to squat as low as you can, at least till your hips are the same height as your knees. As you grow stronger, try to sink your hips below your knees to a deeper squat.
5. Hold for a few breaths then push your body up to standing from your heels. As you go up, squeeze your butt to get that extra workout on your glutes.
Bored of the usual squat? Try 3 of these beginner variations to jazz it up!
1. Weighted Squat
Once you’ve mastered the body weight squat, try adding some light weights to it. Hold a dumbbell vertically next to your chest (cup the dumbbell head with both palms) or hold two dumbbells sitting on your shoulders.
2. Isolated Squat Hold
Hold your squat longer to improve your stability and strength. Just make sure to engage your core and keep your chest up to maintain your form.
3. Sumo Squat
This wide-legged squat focuses more on your inner thighs. Widen your stance and turn your toes out at about a 45-degree angle, just like a sumo wrestler stance. Ensure your knees stay in line with your toes throughout the squat. How deep you can squat depends on the flexibility of your inner thighs, so go as deep as you can.
Mastered the beginner squats? Time for some tougher squats!
1. Squat Side Kick
Stand with your feet hip-width or slightly wider apart. Slowly lower into a half-squat, keeping your knees just at your toes, and raise your right knee up and straighten your left leg as you extend your right leg out to the side to a kick. Then pull your right knee in to return to starting position. Switch legs and repeat.
2. Jump Squat
A great cardio squat that you can do with your body weight or add some extra weights to it for a better burn. As you push back up to the squat position, jump with your feet leaving the ground and land on the balls of your feet to avoid causing strain on your back.
3. Pistol Squat
This one-legged squat will really test your core and balance. Stand with your arms raised out front for balance, then raise your right leg off the floor (keep it straight), and hold it there. Push your hips back and lower your body as far as you can on your left leg. Pause for as long as you can before you push your body back to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat.
Watch Out For These 4 Mistakes During Your Squats
1. Not squatting low enough
Half squatting is not going to give you any benefits so always do a full deep squat. Stand with your legs slightly wider to get a better balance so you can squat deeper steadily. Keep a good form and try to drop your hips lower than your knees to get more out of your squats.
2. Your body is leaning too forward
This puts unnecessary stress on your back and could lead to injuries. Shift your weight to your heels instead of your toes to help keep your body upright as you squat.
3. Your knees are bending inwards
To avoid injuring your knees, try turning your feet outwards a little to keep your knees in line with both your ankles and hips in the deep squat.
4. Squatting down too quickly
In squats, the slower you squat down the more burn you will feel and you can maintain your form better. Dropping your hips too fast might get you injured too. But when you squat up, do it with power and don’t forget to squeeze your glutes too.
Have you mastered these?