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Squats for Dummies 101

December 19, 2014 4 min read

Squats are often referred to as the King Shit of leg and ass exercises – they do not have a fancy name or take a lot to master – they are simple and basic but also are, what a lot of us in the fitness industry can attest to, the best exercise for building your lower body to where you want it. Along with looking FABULOUS, they also help to improve your balance and your bone density! Once mastered this move is easy. That being said it does require you to focus because it can move from good to bad in seconds of losing your form, and can hence cause terrible injuries. Note that its best to get the technique and form mastered with light or no weight before adding heavy weights.

First of all what NOT TO DO:

DO NOT LET YOUR KNEES FALL IN OR FALL OVER YOUR TOES Among women this is actually quite common due to our wide hips and week thighs. The perils of letting your knees fall in are it put undue pressure on your knee ligaments, resulting in injury. SonjaSquat-BADFORM-1 NOT LOWERING TO AT LEAST 90 DEGREES To get the full benefits of building that booty you need to complete the full range of motion - all the way down until your thighbone is parallel with the floor. This allows you to fully engage your gluteus maximus musle and your hamstrings. To practice this move you can stand in front of a knee high chair or box lower your body until your butt just barely touches the box, and then push back up. DO NOT ARCH YOUR BACK Your back naturally has a slight "S" to it – so it is easy for us to let our form suffer while squatting. The risk associated with this is that your lower back then holds the weight and you can risk injury. Keep your back straight and up SonjaSquat-BADFORM-3 DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIFT HEAVY That lovely rumor that will not go away – that lifting heavy will make you bulky and bigger, not slim you (think low weight high reps)…FALSE, LIES, RIDICULOUS. If you do not lift more weight you will not tone anything, plus lifting heavier burns more calories and builds your metabolism that will keep firing long after your done your exercise. Do not be afraid…embrace the weight. DO NOT BE BORING Versatility with squats are key – changing up the type of squat challenges and surprises your muscles…creating that burn and building the muscle. See below for some different types of squats you can incorporate into your routine.   Variety is the spice of life…..spice up those squats with these different types:  

Body-Weight Squat

As mentioned this is the key to master – before adding weight be sure to get your form right using just your body weight. Follow these easy steps:
  1. Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles.
  2. Roll the shoulders back and down away from the ears.
  3. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees
  4. Pause, then slowly push up to starting position (push coming from heels and legs)
SonjaSquat-02 SonjaSquat-03

Body-Weight Jump Squat

  1. Place fingers behind your head and pull elbows back
  2. Dip knees down into a squat (in preparation to jump)
  3. Explosively jump as high as you can, keeping hands behind head
  4. Upon landing, immediately squat down again, jump and repeat
SonjaSquat-04 SonjaSquat-05 SonjaSquat-06

Pistol Squat

  1. Stand holding arms out in front of your body at shoulder level
  2. Raise left leg off of the floor
  3. Push hips back, lowering body as far as you can while keeping left leg raised.
  4. Pause, then slowly push up to starting position.
  5. Finish desired reps then switch legs
SonjaSquat-07 SonjaSquat-09

Barbell Squat

  1. Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles.
  2. Hold barbell across your upper back, roll shoulders back and away from ears
  3. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees
  4. Pause, then slowly push up to starting position (push coming from heels and legs)
SonjaSquat-10 SonjaSquat-11

Barbell Siff Squat

  1. Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles.
  2. Hold barbell across your upper back, roll shoulders back and away from ears
  3. Lift heels as high as you can
  4. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees- keep heels high for entire movement / exercise (note for this movement as your heels are lifted your knees will fall over your toes - okay for this particular exercise)
  5. Pause, then slowly push up to starting position (heels lifted)
SonjaSquat-13 SonjaSquat-14

Barbell Split Squat

  1. Hold barbell across your upper back, roll shoulders back and away from ears
  2. Stand in a staggered stance, left foot in front of right
  3. Lower your body as far as you can into a low lunge
  4. Pause, and then slowly push up to starting position
  5. Finish desired reps, then switch sides.
SonjaSquat-15 SonjaSquat-16

Plié Squat

  1. Hold barbell across your upper back, roll shoulders back and away from ears
  2. Stand with feet spaced slightly wider than shoulder/hip width. Point your toes out slightly.
  3. Lower your hips down into a sitting position. Keep your butt tucked under and back straight. Your thighs should be as parallel to the ground as you can get them.
  4. Push through your feet back up to the starting position, keeping weight in heels. Repeat.
SonjaSquat-17 SonjaSquat-18

Hack Squat

How to load bar:
  1. Place barbell on the floor, step over so it is behind your calves
  2. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, drop into a squat position.
  3. Extend arms and grab the bar behind you with palms facing back
How to do exercise:
  1. Drive through heels, torso tight and chests high, and extend into standing position. Bar should be just under your butt at top of movement
  2. Lower down into squat. Keep holding barbell and push back up into extension. Repeat for desired reps.
SonjaSquat-20 SonjaSquat-19

Braced Squat

  1. Hold a weight in front of your chest with both hands, arm completely straight
  2. Perform a full squat while maintaining the hold on the weight and a strong core.
SonjaSquat-21 SonjaSquat-22     Outfit: Public Myth Location: Mayfield Common World Health Gloves: Props Athletics     

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