For the month of August our focus will be on the basic squat exercise and learning some great variations from this standard yet necessary movement. Squats are a very natural motion for humans to perform.
Since the beginning of time, we have been squatting to perform basic tasks such as gathering food and cooking. The squat is purely a functional exercise that works your mobility, stability and flexibility. No other exercise helps to promote building muscle throughout the body than your squat exercise. The squat directly works your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, but indirectly works the rest of your body such as your back, abs, chest and arms.
This exercise burns more calories than any other exercise. If you are limited on your time for your workout, make sure you get in a couple sets of squats! They will benefit you more than doing any other single exercise.
The important thing to remember is doing your squat with proper form and posture. People are generally mistaken that the squat can really injure your body, when in fact studies have disproved this theory showing that squats help to increase knee stability and help to strengthen your connective tissue. However, when you perform a squat wrong and add a bunch of weight to that poor form, this is when injuries occur.
With all this said, let us go over the proper form and posture of your basic squat. First, don't use resistant weight; work on the proper form with just the weight of your own body.
1. Stand with your feet hip width apart. your weight evenly distributed to both feet and your feet, knees and hips pointed forward.
2. Engage your abs as you bend your knees, lowering your hips back and down as if you are sitting down reaching for the seat behind, you extending your hands in front of you.
3. Make sure your knees do NOT extend over your toes. Your knees should stay right above your feet. Keep your chest up and your back straight looking straight forward.
4. Focus on keeping your weight in your heels, lowering down to about 90 degrees if you can, maybe a bit lower if your strength and flexibility allows it. As you come back up to standing, push your weight through your heels, squeezing your glutes at the top.
Work on doing your squat three or four times this week. Work up to doing three sets of 20 squats with 30 seconds of rest in between sets. Again this is what you are working up to; you may need to start with 8 to 10 reps with a little more time in between. The more you practice the better you will get at it. Each time you work your squat, challenge your range within a safe manner so you can work on getting those hips lower and lower.
Stay toned for next week as we will have variations of the basic squat for you to work on. Practice your squat so you will be ready for our next weeks challenge. Good luck!