But getting all the benefits of squats requires the right squat technique, and a deeper understanding of how squats work.
In this squat guide you’ll learn how to do a proper squat, squat types and what muscles squats target, so you can confidently make them a part of your daily fitness routine.
Let’s take a shot at squats!
What are squats?
Squats are a lower body exercise that engage and strengthen the hips, glutes, hamstrings and other important lower body muscle groups. Since basic squats utilize simple movements and bodyweight only, they can be done anywhere without specialized equipment.
5 Steps to perfect squats:
1. Start with your feet shoulder width apart
Point your feet slightly outwards or keep them parallel if it’s more comfortable.
2. Push your heels into the floor
Place your weight on your heels and imagine they’re glued to the floor.
3. Keep your chest up and your core tight
Keep your chest forward, shoulders back and your back neutral.
4. Push your hips back and bend your knees
Send your glutes down as if you were going to sit on a chair. Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. Keep your knees over your big and second toe. Keep your shins perpendicular to the floor and your thighs parallel to the floor.
5. Push back up to your starting position
Engage your glutes and push your heels into the floor. Send your hips forward and return to your starting position. Repeat.
How many squats should I do?
How many squats you should do every day depends on a variety of factors like age, weight, and height.
20–30 every day is a good starting point. You can try one set of 30, or break it up into 3 smaller sets of 10 if you need a break in between.
There’s no right or wrong amount of squats. Whatever amount feels comfortable to you is the best amount of squats to do.
Remember, if you have any knee or lower back pain, squats might not be right for you. Talk to your doctor before you add squats to your workout.
What muscles do squats strengthen?
Squats are a compound exercise. Compound exercises are movements that target multiple muscles at the same time.
The muscles squats primarily target are:
As you lower into your squat your upper leg lowers to parallel with the ground and your feet stay planted to the ground. This causes a slight lean in your calf muscles that help to strengthen tertiary muscles in your calf that connect to your feet—making squats a great movement for not only strengthening these areas, but increasing flexibility and mobility as well.
Perhaps the most obvious muscle targeted in squats is the hamstring. Your hamstrings are engaged to help with the knee bend and lower motion as part of your squat, providing a strengthening and stretching motion for your hammies.
Abductors and glutes
As you raise back up from your squat position, your abductors (the muscles on the back of your hamstrings) and your glutes (the butt muscles) are engaged and strengthened to push your hips and body back up to your starting position.
Core and lower back
Keeping your back straight during your squat movement engages important core and lower back muscles. Strengthening these muscle groups is important for building lift strength and avoiding lower back injuries that are common from sitting too much or improper lifting of heavy objects.
Squat types: 4 basic squat variations
Whether you're a beginner or a basic squat pro, there’s tons of different squat variations to explore. Adding a few variations to your squats will help you adjust the difficulty level and help you avoid workout boredom.
The 4 best squat variations are:
1. Chair squats
Using a chair for guidance, squat down to the chair. Push back up to your starting position as soon as your glutes hit the chair.
Chair squats will help you gain more confidence in your squat technique and feel where your body needs to be after you remove the chair. Chair squats work as a warm up or tactile guide that will help you progress to a deeper squat as well.
2. Goblet squats
Goblet squats are a simple squat variation that adds weights to your movement. Hold a weight like a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of your chest as you complete your basic squat.
Adding weight will increase the intensity of your workout, so make sure you ease into weighted squats at your own pace.
3. Split squats
Take a large step forward to stagger your feet. Keep your back straight and squat until the calf of your back leg is parallel to the floor.
4. Jump squats
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. After you squat down, use all of your strength to jump up. Upon landing enter back into the squat position.
Squats have a ton of benefits. But some of the more common squat benefits are:
- No equipment is needed to perform a basic squat
- Squats can be done anywhere
- Squats engage and strengthen both the lower and upper body
- Squats are a quick and easy movement break
- Exercises like squats boost overall mood and productivity
- Squats help improve athletic mobility and flexibility
The benefits of squats can vary for everyone. The only way to find out how they’ll work for you is to add them to your routine and make them a habit.
Squat a lot with proper squats
Squats are the perfect addition to any well balanced exercise practice. Need help finding time to work out and staying motivated to move?
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