Squats are one of the simplest and most effective ways to strengthen the lower body. Not only do they sculpt and tone, but they prevent injuries and develop balance by strengthening ligaments, connective tissues, and stabilizing muscles all at once. They’re a functional exercise for daily life – they require few resources and prime your body to lift heavy things safely. However, if done incorrectly, they can actually be dangerous. There’s risk to your lower back and knees if not done with proper form.
The Proper Squat
What exactly is a proper squat? As a baby, we know how to squat instinctually. But with practice, you can relearn.
Start with your feet a little wider than hip width apart, toes facing front. Keep your knees lined with your toes, and don’t cave them in.
Squat as deeply as you can comfortably. Drive your hips back – do it as if you were going to sit in a chair placed behind you to ensure the proper position.
Make sure your chest is up, shoulders back, and your heels glued to the floor. Think about driving them into the ground to put more emphasis on your glutes.
Allow your torso to tilt naturally. If you are too erect, your hips will not release properly, and you risk putting too much strain on your knees.
Breathing properly; inhale as you lower down and exhale through your mouth as you drive upward. This will insure that you are not holding your breath.
Form is more important than quantity! Bad squats put extra tension on ligaments and joints, and don’t activate muscles to the right intensity. Letting your knees go inward, hunching or rounding your back, and lifting your heels off the floor are some common mistakes that cause injury.
Although this exercise mainly targets thighs and glutes, core strength, ankle mobility, back muscles, and calves play an important role in getting the most out of this safely.
Strive for 20 to 30 repetitions per session, about three times a week so you have enough time to recover. In time, the benefits of squats will make themselves clear.