Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
A basic squat is a popular strength exercise that targets the thighs (quads and hamstrings), buttock muscles (glutes) and your core- all at once.
Squats are also one of the most commonly performed movements that you do daily. As such, squats are considered to be a functional movement; that is, they are actually part of our daily activities- you do a squat type action every time you lower your bottom into a chair, onto a lounge or onto a toilet! You squat to grab your shoes, the coin you dropped on the floor or the wet towel on the floor.
But do you cringe at the thought of doing squats? Do you lower your body gingerly down into the chair, using the arm rests because your knees hurt and creak?
Squats, by strengthening your quads and glutes, help to improve the function of knees and hips, ankles and spines. Squatting with correct form requires a degree of stabilisation from the core. This is increased when you add in weights. In this way squats are really helpful for helping you to remain mobile for longer and perform your daily activities with less pain.
You can do squats as a bodyweight only exercise or you can add weights or bands. You can perform your squats anywhere, inside or outside or on holidays. There are endless variations to keep you entertained.
Despite being a simple movement, it is important to learn the correct form when performing your squats so that you reap the rewards and get the most out of your workout.
- feet and knees hip width apart,
- centre of each knee cap aligned with the 2nd toe (the toe next to your big toe),
- lumbar spine neutral *
- arms relaxed by your sides,
- neck and shoulders relaxed, eyes looking forward
- as you lift your arms out in front of shoulders, draw you shoulder blades down and back,
- then bend at the hips and drive the bottom out and down as the knees also bend.
- keep weight into your heels and knees tracking in line with the 2nd toes,
- stop when thighs are almost parallel to the floor,
- push into your heels and straighten your knees and hips, and move your arms back to your sides as you return to your starting position.
- repeat 15 x 2- 3 sets.
- try to not let your knees move past your toes, ( in the vertical plane) as the bend down
- try not to let your knees move in or bow out,
- your hips should start to bend before your knees bend,
- keep your weight into your heels,
- * your lower back should remain neutral throughout to avoid “buttwink” (when the pelvis tilts posteriorly at the lower range of the squat, causing the lumbar spine to round and go into flexion)
- there should be no knee pain.
- you can use a chair/ lounge directly behind you as a guide to where your buttocks should go
Make it Harder:
- add weights,
- add a band at the knees,
- perform a sumo squat
- do a goblet squat with a weight held in front of your body at chest height
- add in a roller
- hold the squat in the lowest position
- do squat jumps