“I hate squats so much,”
your gym buddy always retorts to you after you make the suggestion of doing some.
But the truth is that squats play a key role in developing both strength and stability in the lower half of the body. Here’s why you should learn to love squats:
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• Squats develop your glutes, hamstrings, quads, hips and calves. These muscle groups make up the majority of your body, so you’re getting many benefits at once by just squatting!
• Squats are great for relieving pain caused by joint stiffness. Squats lubricate your knees, hips, and ankle joints.
• You can do squats just about anywhere. Get up from your couch while you’re watching your favorite TV show and do some!
• Squats are far from boring — there are endless variations! They are fun to do to music [1812 Overture, anyone?!?]
If you’re new to incorporating squats into your workout routine, here are some tips on how to perfect a basic squat. Once you practice doing them properly in your routine, you’ll start loving the results and won’t want to leave squats out of your routine again!
1. Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Toes should be pointed forward. Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine to work your transverse abdominals. (The girdle that holds everything in your abdominals together.)
3. Slowly bend your knees and lower yourself to the ground as if to sit in a chair position.
4. Stop when your thighs are parallel with the floor.
5. Push back up through your heels, exhaling at the same time.
• Inhale when lowering body; exhale when pushing back up.
• Keep toes pointed forward.
• Engage your abdominals.
• Do not use your hands to help you push back up.
• Don’t allow your chest to drop and sink onto the tops of your thighs.
Once you’ve mastered the basic squat form, here are some fun variations, compliments of Women’s Health Magazine:
Body Weight Jump Squat
(A) Place your fingers on the back of your head and pull your elbows back so that they’re in line with your body. (B) Dip your knees in preparation to leap. (C) Explosively jump as high as you can. When you land, immediately squat down and jump again.
(A) Stand holding your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level, parallel to the floor. Raise your right leg off the floor, and hold it there. (B) Push your hips back and lower your body as far as you can. Pause, then push your body back to the starting position.
Wide-Stance Barbell Squat
(A) Hold the bar across your upper back with an overhand grip. (B) Perform a squat with your feet set at twice shoulder width.
(A) Hold a weight plate in front of your chest with both hands, your arms completely straight. (B) Perform a squat while holding the weight in place.
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