One of the best exercises for you, whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight (or both) HAS to be the squat.
However, it’s also one of the most difficult exercises to do properly unless you actually know what you’re doing. Let’s take a look at why this exercise is so great, and then how to perform it properly for maximum results and minimal chance of injury.
Squats include various muscles around the body but most importantly they target the legs and butt(Hamstring, Quadriceps & Glutes)! These are the most important muscle groups If you’re looking to burn fat. To do this you want exercises that trigger as much of your body as possible so it’s all about the squat On the other side of the coin, if you’re looking to build muscle, your legs and back can put on the most muscle in the shortest amount of time. So it's a win win move!
If you are serious about getting in shape and losing weight, or if you’re a beanpole and looking to gain muscle, you absolutely need to include squats in your routine.
Squats for Newbies
Before we start loading you up with tons of weight, make sure you can do regular body weight squats. Here is a video that looks like it was made in 1984, but does a great job explaining good form on a body weight squat:
A few tips to remember:
Squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. If you don’t go down that far, you’re cheating yourself and doing a fake squat. Go way down, and you’ll feel it in every muscle in your leg. This will give you a really strong core along with strong legs and a strong back.
Try not to extend your knees past your toes. If you’re doing the squats right, you should be sitting back with your ass out and back straight.
Don’t arch your back. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to keep your head up when you squat, and KEEP YOUR ABS tight throughout the whole exercise (that’s right, squats will even work your abs).
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, and point your toes slightly outward.
Want to see a good test if you’re doing a good squat? Stand up in front of your desk chair, and ‘squat’ down into the chair. Are you sitting? Good. Now stand up without leaning forward at all. if you’re squatting properly, your ass will be sticking out, your back will be straight, and you’ll be able to stand right back up without having to lean forward to get momentum to stand back up.
How to squat in a squat rack:
So you’ve done the chair test, and you can sit and stand without having to lean forward. You can do 3 sets 12 reps of body weight squats and that’s no longer a challenge. Let’s try adding some weight. Get into the squat rack, set the bar at just below your shoulder level, and set the safety bars low enough that you’ll be able to squat low with the bar on your shoulders. Duck under the bar, grab the bar with your hands in a wide grip (palms facing forward), and rest the weight across the upper part of your back (not your neck!). If the weight bothers you across your back, see if there’s a bar pad that you can put on there. They’re usually lying around by the squat racks, smith machines, etc.
The position you want:
Chest up and out
No Squat Rack?
No problem, grab some dumbbells, and hold them in front of you like you’re getting ready to press them up to work your shoulders. Keep them here as you squat up and down, maintaining the same good form as described above. Want to get a full body workout? Every time you stand up for your squat, press the weights up above you. You’ll be working your legs, abs, back, shoulders, chest, and triceps with one exercise. Just practice good form on both and you’ll be all set.
If you’re afraid of squats, now is the time to add them into your routine. Start with very light weight (or just your body weight), practice absolute perfect form, and then in a matter of weeks you’ll be packing on the plates and dropping body fat while building muscle