Why should I squat?

The squat is not just for a firmer butt. This simple exercise works more muscles in a functional synergistic movement pattern than just about any other exercise you will perform, from your ankles up through your core.

When executed with proper form, the squat, and its variations, mainly works your gluteal muscles [your butt – gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus] and your quadriceps [muscles on the front top of your legs from your knees up].

It also improves your mobility, balance and stability by synergistically working your ankles, calves [lower back of legs – soleus, gastrocnemius] hamstrings [back top of legs between your butt and back of knees] and hips, along with your lumbar [lower back] and core.

So the real questions is, why wouldn’t you squat regularly?

There are two main versions of the bodyweight squat that you can perform anywhere, anytime.  You do not need to leave your home or use any equipment – so no excuses not to begin today!

Bodyweight Parallel Squat

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel.
  • Extend your arms out in front of you, mainly for balance.
  • Keep your head and chest up by looking forward.
  • Engage your abdominals by drawing your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Begin the movement by driving your hips backwards.
  • Keep pushing your butt backwards as you descend.
  • Feel your weight shift toward your heels.
  • Keep your knees in line with your toes – mid foot between 2nd and 3rd toes.
  • Keep your heels pressed into the floor as you descend.
  • Descend until your upper thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Isometrically hold the bottom position for a couple of seconds.
  • Push the ground away from you while you ascend to standing.

Congratulations!  You just performed a perfect squat!

Tips:

Each of us is unique.  We move differently from one another.  There is some acceptable range of form within the squat movement.

You can begin with your feet slightly wider than hip width.

It is OK if your feet point out slightly.

Your knees should still track over your 2nd and 3rd toes.

Your knees can point toward the outside of your foot – no wider.

Do NOT allow your knees to cave-inward.

Experiment with the starting position till you find the most natural movement pattern during the squat.

Maintain good posture as you descend by keeping your head and shoulders up and a forward gaze along with the normal curvature of your lumbar spine.

Your upper torso will actually be angled forward as you descend but you don’t want to slump your shoulders, round your back or be facing the floor at the bottom.

Work on your form prior to picking up the pace. 

The use of a full mirror in the beginning can prove helpful.

IF your Knees cave in:

If you discover it is difficult to keep your knees from caving inward during the squat this could be indicative of overactive calf, TFL/IT band and/or adductor muscles.  It could also indicate weak gluteal muscles and/or weak lower leg muscles.  We may need to work on a corrective exercise strategy to correct lower leg or hip dysfunction prior to getting the maximum benefit from the squat. Try putting a board on the floor under your heels so that your heels are elevated when you perform the squat.  Let me know if this improves your knees caving in on the descent.

Bodyweight Sumo Squat

  • Stand with your feet wider than your hips – between 150 to 200% hip-width.
  • Point your toes out – approximately 30 degrees.
  • Extend your arms out in front of you, mainly for balance.
  • Keep your head and chest up by looking forward.  Maintain good posture.
  • Engage your abdominals by drawing your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Begin the movement by driving your hips backwards.
  • Keep pushing your butt backwards as you descend.
  • Feel your weight shift toward your heels.
  • Keep your knees in line with your toes – mid foot between 2nd and 3rd toes.
  • Keep your heels pressed into the floor as you descend.
  • Descend until your upper thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Isometrically hold the bottom position for a couple of seconds.
  • Push the ground away from you while you ascend to standing.

There are numerous Squat variations.  I will list some of my favorites in the next post aptly named, Squat Variations.

These bodyweight squats can be performed just about as often as you wish.

Begin with 12 to 15 reps of each bodyweight squat every other day for the first week.

The following week increase your reps and/or your sets.  You could do 25 parallel squats in the morning and 25 sumo squats in the evening.  That would be 50 squats every other day.

Regardless of your remaining exercise program, 50 squats every other day would be an awesome addition along your path to total body fitness.

Daily/Weekly – You can continue to increase your reps and/or sets as your legs and butt get stronger and firmer.

The beauty of this simple bodyweight exercise is You can do it in front of your TV, You can get up out of your chair at work and do it, You can do it on a train, You can do it on a plane…You can do it anywhere, anytime.

Benefits of performing regular squats include: better digestion; improved circulation; burn more fat; firmer leg muscles; firmer buttocks; improved posture; better balance and stability; improved core strength; improved performance – you will be able to jump higher and run faster.

AND – Learning how to perform the squat correctly will improve your neuromuscular efficiency which will help you prevent injuries during real life activities.

PLUS – As you age you will be better prepared to simply get out of a chair, or off a toilet – think about older folks you know who struggle with these simple movements that today we take for granted.

Squats are not just for a better backside, BUTT if you include squats as part of your functional fitness routine you will notice more muscle tone in your legs along with a rounder, firmer butt, and others will notice it too!

XFNC Coaching