A squat is a dynamic exercise that can strengthen your legs, hips, glutes, abs, back, and shoulders. This full-body workout is often used as part of a weight-lifting regimen and an aerobic routine. Check that your form is perfect, in order to improve your squat without injuring yourself. Then, add these squat-improving routines into your workout.
If you might lose your balance/fall back, use a spotter, or place a strong, armless chair behind your standing position, and squat to near the chair seat level.
Do not lower your thighs to below parallel to the floor to avoid stress or injury to your knees.
Stretch: Use static versus dynamic stretches. Static stretching is typically an exercise where you hold a position for a certain amount of time (usually 15-30 seconds). Dynamic (active) stretching involves controlled movements through various ranges of motion. Dynamic stretching is sometimes recommended because warming up by moving may offer less risk of injury. Shoulder rolls, light kicks, sumo squats, twists are all good examples of dynamic stretching exercises.
Start with no weights at all—or just an unloaded barbell, if you’re new to squats and weight training. Work up to adding weights.
- Place your feet hip-width apart or very slightly wider. Start with your feet facing forward, and then turn them out to the side by approximately 10 degrees. Turning your feet out slightly will open up your hips and allow you to squat lower.
- Lift your toes up. Your body weight should rest in your heels as you sit back. Lifting your toes will force your body to compensate.
- As you rise from your squat, imagine your feet are spreading wider as you drive the heels into the floor.
Sit back like you are going to sit in a low chair. Most people don’t distribute their weight back far enough. To train yourself, you can squat down onto a low chair or a box.
- In this position, you lean slightly forward to distribute your weight into your hindquarters. As you move your butt lower, your torso should lean forward in a straight line.
Keep your knees in line with your toes. Start your squat parallel to a mirror, so that you can view whether your knees go past your toes. If they do, squat less deeply and hold the squatted position longer until you develop strength.
- Pick a point on the wall to watch as you squat. Never drop your head down or look up at the ceiling. Keep a faraway focal point and never break your gaze.
- Keep a proud chest. This is especially important if you are using a bar and lifting weights as you squat. As you place the bar across your shoulders, make sure you are pulling down until your elbows are just below your shoulders and it will help your chest stay lifted.
- Your upper body should never round forward. A rounded back can cause a lower back injury.
Notice the arch in your lower back. You should never overarch your back; however, keeping a slight arch, similar to the amount that remains when you stand, will help distribute the weight. Keep your lower abdominals pulled in and up during the duration of the exercise to keep the lower back steady.
- Do hamstring curls to even out the strength in your hamstrings and quads. Most people’s quads are much stronger, creating an imbalance and potential for injury. Your hamstrings will lift you out of your lowest squatting position.
- Lay back on your exercise mat. Place a small rubber ball, called a physio ball, underneath your feet. Do a hip bridge, like you did to strengthen your glutes.
Try to stay as steady as possible in your torso, as you pull your heels in toward your butt. The ball should come slightly closer as you continue to lift your hips.
Return the ball. Repeat with three sets of 10 reps.