One of the most talked about moves in fitness is the squat, but so many people do it wrong.
Here’s your guide to all things squatting so you can benefit from the world’s best total body exercise!
There are many exercises out there that you can perform to help yourself reach excellent physical fitness, improve muscle tone, and feel better inside and out. None of them, however, offer the same immaculate benefits as squats. If you’ve yet to add squats to your exercise routine, you’re really missing out on an excellent way to get fit, stay fit, and improve your overall health and well-being.
There isn’t a person out there who can’t benefit from performing squats. In fact, there isn’t a better time than right now to add them to your exercise regimen if you aren’t doing them already. In this article, we will provide all of the information you need to add squats to your workout.
If you really pay attention to your form, squats are one of easiest and most rewarding exercises—especially because you don’t even need any additional equipment to do them.
Squats are truly the best do-anywhere exercise that can help anyone. Let’s take a look at the benefits of squats, the basics of performing the exercise and everything else you need to know about this staple exercise.
What Are The Real Benefits Of Squats?
Before we get into the different types of squats that you can perform and the proper way to do them, let’s first talk a bit about the benefits of performing squats. You might be surprised at the many awesome benefits that you’ll enjoy with squats.
The biggest benefit that comes with performing squats is that you will build muscle throughout your body. Squats work the quads and the glutes, which happen to be the largest muscles in your body. But, that’s not all. Squats also work your lower back and the calves and the hamstrings.
When you’re squatting, you are benefiting yourself tremendously because squats require up and down movements, which build your muscles while prompting them to work more efficiently. Better balance and easier mobility are a couple of the exciting advantages that you will enjoy with squatting.
Squats burn calories by helping build muscle. As a result, if you are trying to shed a few pounds and look and feel better about yourself, squatting is your best bet. Why? They harness more muscles and force your heart rate up at the same time. The result is burning more calories and crafting a healthier, leaner body. When you perform squats each day, you can expect to burn up to an additional 50 to 70 calories!
You can also stabilize and strengthen your muscles when you perform squats. This, in turn, helps prevent and minimize injuries to the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues in your body. When you’re training hard, the best service you can do for your body is to make it bullet proof from wear and tear on smaller connective tissues and ligaments. It also helps you out later in life since bones and muscles get weaker as we age.
Beyond building a stronger body and staving off injury, squats can also regulate lipid metabolism and insulin levels, as well as your glucose levels. What does this mean? It helps protect you against cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.
How Should You Perform A Squat?
The most common type of squat that you can perform is called the bodyweight squat. This type of squat uses no weights so all you’ll need is a flat surface to stand on. Since you are not using any additional weight while raising your heart rate, you will create lean muscle mass, accelerating your weight loss and metabolism rates. As an added bonus, you’ll even burn more calories while you are at rest, something that most other exercises don’t do.
Proper way to perform the bodyweight squat
First, stand with your knees bent slightly and your feet flat and firmly planted on the ground. Your toes should point outward rather than straight so that you can stabilize yourself. Believe it or not, many people injure themselves trying to assume the right position rather than from the exercise itself. Do not be one of those people!
Second, your feet should be spread apart at about shoulder length. The wider your feet are spread, the better the workout you will provide to your hamstrings and glutes. If you want the emphasis of the workout to be on your quads, however, your feet should be placed closer together. An important note to remember is that you should never have your feet together if you’re trying to perform a squat.
Third, make sure that your head is straight—not looking up or down, just straight ahead. From there, you need to ensure that your spine is also straight and your chest is out and square with the wall you are facing. This is important, as your chest should not be leaning forward.
Fourth, lower your body, bending at your knees. Your body will expose its natural curve when you are in this position. A good way to ensure that you are doing your squat correctly is to choose a point to focus on while you’re in motion. Your best bet is to select something that won’t move while you are training. Focus on that. Doing so will make sure that your head will stay in the proper position throughout.
Fifth, when you are going down, make sure that you inhale and let the air out as you’re coming back up. This will tighten your abs and help keep you stable. Do not make sudden movements when squatting. Instead, keep your body stable and controlled throughout. You risk injury if your body is not stable. Bouncing up and down throughout the movement will minimize the benefits of performing the exercise.
As we explained, performing a squat is very simple, and it maximizes your entire workout so you will get the body that you want in a much quicker time frame!
Most people are very happy with the results of including squats in their workout. The only complaints we hear about come from people who do it the wrong way.
Are You Squatting Properly?
As previously stated, there is a right and wrong way to perform a squat. If you are not performing the squat in the proper manner, you are increasing the risk of injury to your body. Unfortunately, by squatting incorrectly, you will also be failing to receive the full benefits of the exercise. You don’t need a bodybuilder or a trainer to tell you if you are doing it right. Here is a simple method to use to make this determination.
Stand in front of a desk chair. Any straight-backed desk chair will work for this exercise. Pretend that you are going to squat down onto the chair so the tip of your butt would touch the end of the seat. When you do this, you should be able to stand up without leaning forward whatsoever. If this is not the result that you get, work on standing up straighter without arching your back. A squat that is performed the right way will offer you a straight back with your butt out, and no need to lean forward to stand up again.
Once you are able to perform this test properly, it is a good idea to add a bit of weight with a barbell to the routine. You can hold a barbell over your shoulders or hold dumbbells at your sides. The added weight provides many additional benefits for your workout, including the increase of stamina and additional muscle growth you ordinarily wouldn’t receive without any added weight. It is just as simple to perform a squat with a barbell or dumbbells.
What Are The Best Tips When It Comes To Squats?
We can all use some tips to help us gain the most benefits from squatting! Here are a few tips that will ensure you are maximizing your workout and getting the most from each and every squat that you perform. Use these tips to your advantage when working out with squats, and you’ll enjoy a complete workout every time!
First, if you’ve never performed squats before, you should really consider using a chair or sofa to help you with your form. Remember to start slowly. There is no benefit to tricking yourself into thinking you are squatting properly.
If you find it hard to slowly lower or raise yourself throughout your squatting efforts, your best bet is to build up your strength and stability. You’ll become a squat master by doing the range of motion that you’re able to do without cheating or rushing and slowly adding more range as you get better. Squatting is not something you should rush. Unfortunately, doing it right doesn’t happen over night.
When using a barbell to enhance your workout, make sure that it is placed on your shoulders properly. If the barbell causes pain, you can always use a towel or other soft cloth to ease the stress. Your best bet is to rest the bar over your lower traps and rear deltoids. Do not rest it on your neck!
Always keep your back straight when performing squats. We can’t stress this enough!
If you’re arching or leaning, you are doing this wrong and you could end up injuring yourself as a result. When bending your legs for a squat, make sure that your knees bend together at the same time. This enables you to more easily squat without the potential of causing yourself injury. It will also ensure that your movement is even and steady.
Distribute your weight on your heels and quads rather than on your knees. When you put too much of the weight from this movement on your knees, you’re doing it wrong and inviting injury. When you push up off of your heels, you’ll also harness much more of your power and generate more strength and gains from your workout.
You should also make sure that you never lock your knees while performing a squat or let your knees bend forward further ahead of your toes. Try to do between 10 to 15 reps on every set you perform. As with all total body moves, you should also make sure to monitor your breathing and brace your abs throughout.
What Other Types Of Squats Should You Try?
In addition to the simple bodyweight and weighted squats listed above, there are many other types of squats that you can try that also provide great health, strength and muscle building benefits.
You should consider adding the following to your routine: One-legged squat, plie squat, front squat, sumo squat and jump squat.
These squats work the lower body muscle, but each offers its own variation so that you can get even more focused benefits when working out. It is also a good idea to switch things up every now and again so that you are able to enjoy a complete workout.
Men and women of all ages and with all types of fitness goals can enjoy the numerous benefits offered by adding squats to their workout plans. If you’re looking for a way to build more muscle and get the body that you really want, there isn’t a better way to get it than with the use of squats!
This is one total body move that anyone can master with some effort. So what are you waiting for?
– Amanda Grace
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