Ah, the squat. It’s such a simple exercise, yet one of the most effective for toning your glutes and thighs. Whether you’re just getting into fitness or have been working out for a while, it’s essential to learn the proper form for this exercise. That way, you get the most out of the exercise and don’t injure yourself. This guide teaches you how to do a squat with proper form and shares modifications to make it easier or more challenging. Plus, find a 2022 squat challenge at the end to jumpstart your fitness journey in the new year!
How to Do a Squat in 4 Steps
Ok, let’s get straight to it. Here’s how to do a squat the right way.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips or stretch your arms out in front of you to assist with balance.
- Tuck your chin so it is in alignment with the rest of your spine before lifting to protect your lower back. The ideal position is with the head pushed slightly back and the chin slightly tucked. This will prevent your chest and neck from falling forward, which could injure your lower back. It will also help you stay balanced as you squat.
- Slowly bend your knees and gradually move into a squat position. During this step, it’s essential to keep your heels on the ground, toes facing forward, and knees in line with your toes. Make sure your knees don’t bend over your toes, as this can cause your heels to rise and put too much pressure on your knees.
- Engage your glute muscles to return to a standing position. Once you hit a 90-degree bend in your legs, you’ve made it to the bottom of your squat. It’s time to stand back up.
And there you have it. Now you know the four basic steps it takes to do this exercise and start strengthening your glutes and legs. But before you begin, take a look once more at the key elements of proper form.
How Do You Properly Do a Squat?
Ensuring your form is correct is the number one most important aspect of the exercise. Incorrect form can quickly injure your lower back and knees. Fortunately, there are only five main things you need to remember:
- Hips shoulder-width apart
- Weight in heels (push back behind you as you squat)
- Tuck your chin (maintain a neutral spine)
- Knees over ankles (they should never go past your toes)
- Maintain width between knees (watch that your knees don’t roll in or out during the exercise)
Squat Modifications for Beginners and Experts
If you’re just starting your fitness journey, you may find it difficult to keep proper form while bending into a 90-degree squat. That’s ok! Once you build up your leg muscles, it’ll be easier to squat correctly. Until then, you can modify the squat in three ways:
- Squat as far as you can go, then come back up. If you can’t yet make it to a 90-degree angle, that’s ok. Go as far down as you can while maintaining proper form and stop there. Challenge yourself little by little each day until you can reach that 90-degree angle.
- Sit in a chair. I know it sounds silly, but sitting in a chair while keeping your form is the perfect way to squat confidently. You have something to catch you if you lose your balance or need a second before coming back to standing.
- Use a TRX or Resistance Band with Handles. Holding onto something with resistance allows you to sit back into that imaginary chair without the fear of falling or leaning forward (pressure on your knees). Use the code “Ashleylane” for 20% off your purchase of Hope Fitness Gear Bands.
If you’ve mastered the squat and now you want more of a challenge, try these three modifications:
- Squat with a dumbbell in each hand. Adding extra weight will make the squat more challenging and help your legs and glutes get even stronger.
- Squat slowly. When you slow down the exercise and move through the squat slowly, engaging your glutes, thighs, and core the entire time, you’ll feel a bigger burn. To add to this, pause at the bottom once you hit 90-degrees and hold that position for 5-10 seconds before coming back up.
- Do a jump squat. A jump squat requires the same form as a traditional squat. The only difference is rather than standing up after hitting 90-degrees, you jump up! Just be sure to land softly with slightly bent knees before heading back into another squat, and make sure the weight stays in your heels and not your toes.
Benefits of Learning How to Do a Squat
Now that you know how to properly do a squat with the correct form, here are four benefits you’ll experience when incorporating squats into your fitness routine.
1. Squats Build Muscle
A squat is a muscle-building exercise that strengthens many muscles in your legs and booty. From your glutes to your hamstrings to your quads to your calves, your entire leg benefits from this exercise. It also engages your core muscles (abs and lower back). All you need to do is put some weights in your hands to make this a full-body exercise.
2. Squats Burn Calories Quickly
The more muscle mass you have, the quicker your body can burn calories before, during, and after a workout. Because squats build muscle, they simultaneously burn calories, helping you achieve your desired result faster.
3. Squats Help Increase Mobility and Balance
It takes balance to do a squat the right way. And because it engages and strengthens your core (your stabilizing muscles), it also assists in improving balance and mobility and can help prevent falls.
4. Squats are Good for Your Heart
Your leg muscles aren’t the only ones that benefit from squats. Your heart muscle also gets stronger with each rep you do. The more squats you perform, the more your heart and lungs get involved, turning it into an anaerobic exercise, especially as you increase your reps, add weights, or do a jump squat.
Enhance Your Workout Routine with a Squat Challenge
Are you ready to incorporate squats into your workout routine? Try this 22 Day 100 Squat Challenge for 2022 and take the new year by storm by strengthening your legs and core, building your booty, and getting closer to achieving your fitness goals every day.
Ready for another challenge? Join the #ALFitCrew January Challenge to jumpstart your fitness journey and set yourself up for success in 2022! The challenge starts January 10th, so SIGN UP TODAY and get ready to crush your fitness goals in the new year!