A proper squat workout targets your upper and lower body simultaneously, building muscles that power you through daily tasks like walking, climbing stairs, bending, or carrying heavy loads.
And with everyone trying to increase their fitness levels lately, adding squats to your workout routine can help boost performance, decrease risks of injury, and improve mobility. If there was one exercise that works most of the muscles in your body – it would be the squat.
For starters, the squat mainly targets the lower body muscles like the buttocks, quadriceps, hamstrings, adductor, calves and hip flexors. But it also works your core muscles like the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae.
How to squat?
So how do you do a proper squat which will help your knees, improve your muscles and strengthen your core? You could follow the steps below:
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your chest up.
- Engage your abdominals and shift your weight onto your heels as you push your hips back into a sitting position.
- Squat down until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor.
- Your knees should be stacked over your ankles. Make sure to keep them behind your toes.
- Pause for a second. Your back should be straight — not rounded.
- Exhale, press into your heels and straighten your legs to push back up to the starting position.
"A proper squat workout targets your upper and lower body simultaneously, building muscles that power you through daily tasks like walking, climbing stairs, bending, or carrying heavy loads."
As said above, there are many benefits to doing a proper squat, but here are some of our top picks when it comes to this movement:
Strengthens Your Core
A 2018 study cited in the Journal of Human Kinetics found that there was greater core muscle activation during a plank with back squats. By working your core more often, everyday movements like turning, bending, and standing are easier. On top of that, it improves your balance, eases lower back pain and helps maintain good posture.
Reduces The Risk of Injury
According to the American Council of Exercise, incorporating squats in your overall workout routine also helps strengthen your tendons, ligaments, and bones, which may help reduce your risk of injury. This is because your strengthened lower body allows you to better execute full-body movements with correct form, balance, mobility, and posture.
Lose Weight and Burn Calories
Squats, as a strength training move, can be an important part of any successful weight loss plan. Regular strength training helps speed up your metabolism and can decrease body fat.
The exercise causes your body to increase anabolic hormone production which helps lose fat and build muscle. A 2021 Harvard Medical School found that a 70kg person can burn approximately 223 calories doing 30-minute of vigorous strength training exercises, like squats.
Adding variety helps with motivation
After mastering your squat goals, it's time to incorporate some new variations to up your squat game like back squats, jump squats or overhead squats. Adding variety to your squat routine can keep you motivated and strengthen different muscle groups. Once you’re used to your body weight, you can try extra weights, like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or medicine balls, or with resistance bands or yoga balls.
Just like any exercise, form is important. Keep your back straight and engage the right muscles. Here are some other safety precautions to keep in mind when doing squats:
- Only lower yourself as far as you can comfortably go.
- Stop once you begin to feel discomfort in your hips or knees and use that as your endpoint.
- Make sure you have a solid base as most squat exercises require you to start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your eyes forward as it helps you straighten your back.
- Avoid rounding your shoulders or back and focus on keeping your spine straight and in a neutral position.
- When you decide to add some variety and weights into your squat game, only lift what you can handle.
Once you get a hang of it and squats become part of your daily workout routine, you’ll feel yourself moving better and stronger in no time. Remember to do it correctly and take your time, don’t rush into it as that may increase the likelihood of injuring yourself.
"Once you get a hang of it and squats become part of your daily workout routine, you’ll feel yourself moving better and stronger in no time."
And if you're recovering from an injury or have sensitive knees, be sure to check in with your doctor or a personal trainer before doing squats. Enjoy your workout and have fun!