Updated: May 13
Squats are a fundamental exercise that can help build strength and improve mobility in your lower body. A squat is an exercise that involves many muscles including the gluteus, quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, hip flexors, and calves. Different variations target certain muscles over others, nevertheless, the mechanics remain the same. It's important to use proper form to avoid injury and get the most out of the exercise. In this article, we will break down how to perform a squat into simple steps that anyone can follow.
Step 1: Set up your feet
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing slightly outward. Your weight should be evenly distributed over both feet. Keep your chest up and your shoulders back. Your mobility may vary depending on flexibility levels and comfort, sometimes pointing your feet forward and going slightly more than shoulder width apart feels more natural and stable.
Step 2: Get in position
Hold your arms out in front of you or place them on your hips. If you are squatting on a squat rack you want to place the bar on your trapezoid muscles and shoulders, not your vertebra prominins which is the spine protrusion on your neck. Keep your back straight and look straight ahead. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your spine.
Step 3: Prepare to squat
Take a deep breath and brace your core, prepare to engage your legs immediately as well, and maintain tone throughout the movement. As you inhale, push your hips back and bend your knees. Your weight should be on your heels, your butt should feel fully engaged along with other leg muscles, and your knees should be in line with your toes.
Step 4: Squat down
Lower your body down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your back straight and avoid rounding your shoulders or lower back (do not bend forward at the waist, keep your spine straight). Your knees should be in line with your toes. If you are having difficulty reaching parallel, try widening your stance or turning your toes out slightly. If you’re feeling the weight on your toes, you are likely leaning forward.
Step 5: Stand up
Push through your heels and stand up straight. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Your hips and shoulders should rise at the same time. Do not lock out your knees at the top of the exercise, always aim to keep your joints mobile. Your knees should not move towards each other, this could mean your weight is not evenly distributed or you may have a muscle imbalance (stronger muscles compensating for weaker ones during a movement).
Tips for a successful squat:
- Keep your core tight throughout the lift
- Avoid rounding your back or shoulders
- Keep your knees in line with your toes
- Push through your heels to stand up
- Focus on your form rather than the weight you are lifting
Squats are an essential exercise in any routine that can help build your lower body. By following these simple steps, you can perform squats safely and effectively. Remember to start with lighter weights and focus on your form before progressing to heavier weights. Squatting can naturally boost hormone production, burn more calories, and improve posture. By incorporating squats into your workout routine, you can improve your overall fitness and reach your fitness goals.
Before starting any fitness program or making dietary changes, including supplementation, please consult your physician for a thorough examination.