Learning the Art of Perfect Squats
Squats Are One of the Most Functional Exercises
Let’s face it; squats are one of the most functional exercises you do in a workout! Squats promote mobility and balance and help you do daily activities with ease.
Squats naturally help to build leg muscles which include the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. In turn, this creates an anabolic environment. Squats trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone which builds muscle globally in the body. When you have developed more muscle with squats, you start to burn fat and calories more efficiently even while at rest.
Squats have long been criticized for being destructive to your knees, contrary to what some people believe, squats prevent injury. Most injuries occur due to weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues. These areas are all strengthened by squats when done correctly. Not sure if you are doing them correctly? Hire a personal trainer to assess your movement patterns and help you with correct form. Squats also help to improve flexibility at the hip, knee and ankle which in turn will help to reduce injury as well.
Squats help to boost athletic performance by increasing your ability to jump higher, run faster or lift more. They are fantastic for multi-purpose activity because they tone and tighten your legs, glutes and abs! Squats are an exercise that should be a vital part of virtually everyone’s fitness routine, as they provide whole-body benefits!
Warm up with at least 5 minutes of cardio before doing any strength training moves. This will get your muscles warm and ready for what’s to come. Practice by actually standing in front of a chair and sitting down on it briefly before standing back up.
How to Perform Perfect Squats
- Start by standing facing a wall with your feet approximately 3-inches from the wall.
- Place your feet slightly hip-width apart; toes in a neutral position or if feet are shoulder-width apart, then turn them out at 1 o’clock and 11 o’clock.
- Rock pelvis in an anterior and posterior tilt then find your neutral position – in a neutral position, your tailbone should not be tucked under, and lower back should not be overly arched. Engage the lower pelvic floor by squeezing the muscles surrounding the bladder and pull the belly button in towards the spine.
- Press the shoulders down; away from your ears while simultaneously engaging the shoulder blades and holding them in a neutral position.
- Place your hands on the wall and begin your squat; shifting your weight so that it is evenly distributed between the heels and the ball of the feet.
- Begin the movement by flexing (bending at the hip joint), pushing the butt directly back. As you flex at the hip, the forehead should come towards the wall without touching. Flex (bend) the knees at this point ensuring that they do not pass the toes (think about staying behind were the shoelaces are located). Keep your pelvic floor and abs engaged.
- Continue to slowly lower down for a count of 2 to 3 seconds until thighs are parallel to the ground (90°). Stop at any point during the movement if you feel pain in the lower back, hip, knees or ankle. Stay pain-free range of motion should you feel pain during the movement stop just before that point instead of going full range of motion.
- Stop at the bottom of the full range of motion, check if knees are behind toes; thighs are neutral (neither internally or externally rotated), ankles are neutral (neither pronating or supinating). Ensure abs are engaged, lower back is neutral, the chest is up, and shoulders are still down and back. Chin should be parallel to the ground.
- Keep everything neutral and slowly for a count of 2 to 3 return to the original standing position. Upon returning to upright do not lock out your knees, however, squeeze the glutes.
- Repeat the movement 8 to 12 times, performing 1 to 3 sets. For each repetition, count to 2 or 3 on the way up and on the way down to ensure you’re not going too fast. Rest 30 to 60 seconds in between sets.
- As you improve increase the repetitions to 12 to 15 then add weight once you can achieve 15 repetitions for 3 sets with minimal discomfort at the 24 hour mark post workout.
If your knees bother you, check your form or try an alternative exercise to avoid knee pain. People who are new to exercise should hire a personal trainer to work on form and establish proper technique.
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Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL, Rehabilitation Specialist, Pharm.Tech (Level 3)
How to Do Squats: 8 Reasons to Do Squat Exercises. Dr Mercola’s Natural Health Newsletter https://fitness.mercola.com/how-to-do-squats.aspx
Paige Waehner. How to Do a Perfect Squat. verywellfit.com. https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-a-squat-1229837
Infofit Personal Training Basics Manual