Today’s tip is to Sink Into Squats – specifically the benefits of squats and how to do them.
Watch the full podcast episode below.
Squats are one of the most functional exercises around. That means that it is an exercise that will not only benefit your physical health by improving lower body strength, it will also translate into improvements in your daily life. Just think about how many times you squat on a normal day – you squat getting in and out of bed, getting on and off the toilet and in and out of chairs. You squat to pick something up off the floor, getting in and out of your car and going up and down stairs.
Squats are life – and proper squatting technique ensures a long, healthy & independent life.
Proper squatting technique is critical to ensure you maximise the benefits and prevent injury. Proper squatting form also requires mobility and flexibility in the hips and ankles as well as full activation of the glutes and inner thighs. If you have trouble with squats, working on mobility and glute activations are the best places to start, I’ll post a link in the show notes to my mobility monday videos and you can go back and listen to episode 8 on glutes.
Here are some guidelines to consider when performing a squat:
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your feet parallel. (Side note depending on how you are built you can play with this by making your feet slightly wider than hip width and angling them slightly outward. Just make sure that your knees and your toes are pointing -and remain pointing- in the same direction)
- Next keep your chest up, engage your abdominals, and shift your weight onto your heels as you push your hips back into a sitting position.
- lower your hips until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor.You should feel the squat in your thighs and glutes.
- Pause with your knees over, but not beyond, your toes.
- Exhale and push back up to the starting position
If you find it challenging to keep your chest up (like you tend to bend forward slightly) weak glutes might be to blame. If you can’t squat very low you might want to work on your ankle mobility or hip mobility. (again follow the link in the show notes for some hip & ankle mobility drills)
If you have a stability ball, you could also try performing the squat against the wall while leaning on the ball as shown in the picture below. This is a great variation for beginners to ensure proper form or if you have any knee issues.
Once you master the basic squat you can increase the intensity and add some variety by adding weights or trying other squat variations like split stance squats or lunges, single leg squats, back squats, overhead squats or jump squats (see the pictures below). Again, talk to your doctor or health care provider before starting any new exercise or fitness program.
So as you can tell, squats are a fairly simple movement (we do it many times in our daily life) but they also require a complex coordination of a range of joints, muscles & ligaments. This makes it not only an important exercise to master, but also an essential part of your healthy lifestyle. Start perfecting your squat today and see improvements in your muscle tone, bone density, flexibility, mobility and overall fitness & health – willpower not required.
Looking for more exercise ideas? Check out the other articles in the blog here
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