Chances are that if you ever stepped foot in the gym or exercised at all, you have performed at least one ‘squat’ in your life. Actually if you have ever sat down and stood up again, you have done most of what is involved in the whole process. Squats are the foundation of a great workout routine and a great full body exercise. Whole body you say? Yep. You need a strong core and upper body to perform a squat with good form. There are many many different types of squats but in order to master all of them, you need to start with the basics and set it up right. Form is everything and can make all the difference in injury prevention, muscle activation, joint stability, movement patterns and the ability to build strength and grow your muscle.
When you squat, you are primarily working your quads (the 4 muscles located in the front of your thighs), hamstrings and your glutes. Here are some pointers for performing the perfect squat.
THE SET UP:
- Start standing up with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your toes in line with your heels. Make sure your knees are soft (not locked out) and your ribs are over your hips. Engage your core, relax your neck and shoulders and drive your shoulder blades down towards your hips.
Your hips move back as if you were going to sit on a chair. Bend your knees. Keep your chest up and your core engaged as you lower your hips as low as you can. Your weight should be equally divided between your toes and your heels and your knees should be tracking over your toes.
Breath!!! – Inhale as you lower down and EXHALE as you stand up again. Connecting your breath to your movement will help you perform better in the exercise.
As you return to standing, extend your hips and squeeze your glutes. Careful not to hyperextend your lower back.
Add them to a workout: start with 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps.
You can also hold a dumbbell in each hand to add intensity and make them more difficult.