Do you want to hear a fitness pro talk? Don’t just ask them whether or not you should be doing squats. That question alone will evoke an exuberant “YESSS!!!!!!” Instead, ask them “how” and “why.” Fitness pros light up likes kids when the ice cream truck rolls up when they get to talk about one the most effective exercises around!
First things first, though. Squats, like people, come in all shapes and forms. If you choose the right one, squats will HELP – not HURT – your knees, since they build the muscles that support your knees and associated joints and muscles. You can do them anywhere, anytime with added weight or without. You can switch-up your foot position during a squat, increase or decrease knee flexion, lean against a wall, add propulsion, use a bench or chair or add weights to the movement to build primary movers and stabilizer muscles, work on balance or increase power.
You strengthen your quads, glutes, hamstrings, abs, back, and more when you squat. Squats can be a beginner’s go-to move to strengthen the muscles that support major joints. Athletes at their peak can use squats to make major strength gains and showcase their strength against their competition.
SQUAT, SQUAT, SQUAT!
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To do a FREESTANDING BASIC SQUAT
– Stand in neutral posture with your feet shoulder-width apart.
– Focus on pressing your weight into your heels as you start to bend your knees.
– Stick your butt back and allow your hips to hinge.
– Keep your chest open and lifted.
– As you descend, your knees should be over your ankles or mid-foot, not over your toes.
– Rise back up to standing.
Now play around with the movement!
Here are some ideas:
Resistance Band Squats:
Stand on a long resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the ends of the band in each hand and bring the ends up to your shoulders so the band is taught. Execute the resistance band squat. The band adds resistance to the eccentric, or lengthening, phase of the muscular movement.
Stand about a foot in front of a chair. Stick your butt back as you bend your knees. Tap the chair with your butt. Lift your butt a tad and hover for a few seconds. Then stand back up. Chair Squats are great for beginners, but the hover can intensify it the more fit you get.
Narrow Stance Wall Squat:
Load up your stabilizer muscles by decreasing your base of support during a squat. Stand with your back to a wall or place a stability ball between you and the wall. Walk your feet out in front of you and bring your feet together. As you drop into a narrow based squat bend your knees to a 90-degree angle.
Full Squat with Weights:
Once you’ve mastered the Freestanding Squat, add weight! Rest a barbell on your shoulders or use a set of heavy hand weights. These can be as hard and as heavy as you make them.