I’ve been thinking a lot lately about squats. (You laugh, but when you work in fitness these are the things that go through your head.) Because when it comes to exercises, squats are kind of like the holy grail. In fact, if I had to choose one and only exercise to do for the rest of my life, squats would be it.
Let’s start with the obvious benefit. Squatting engages every muscle in your lower body. When you do them you’re using your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Come to think of it, squatting uses more muscles as a singular move than any other exercise you can do. But, the benefits go so far beyond just giving you toned and lean legs and a firm butt. Squats really can improve your life!
Squats are a compound exercise, meaning they target many muscles. And, they are also a functional exercise meaning they strengthen muscles you need to do things better in every day life. When you’re squatting you’re using your legs, but you’re also firing up your core, your abs and your back as you go through the whole range of motion. In real life, this gives you better overall mobility, balance and range of motion.
In addition to strengthening your muscles, squats make your joints, ligaments and connective tissue stronger. If you’re an athlete or a runner (or want to be) this can help you be more agile, jump higher and run faster. It can also help to prevent injuries in athletes and in older adults who may be more prone to falls.
Squats are also an awesome fat burning tool. Since squatting uses several large muscle groups they are big calorie burners. Over time you’ll find that squatting will make these muscles tighter, leaner and stronger. And, as your muscles get stronger your metabolism actually gets stronger and more efficient too. So, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day and long after you’ve finished your workout.
Still not convinced? Another perk of squats is that they will improve your posture. By working muscles at the front of your body and the back of your body, squats will make you to stand taller and straighter. And that makes you instantly look leaner!
So, squats should always be part of your workout routine. Whether you’re a man or woman, whether your goal is to tone up or lose weight, no matter your age or fitness level, squats are one exercise everyone benefits from. They’re awesome because you can do them anywhere – inside or outside the gym. You can do body weight squats or add weight to make them more challenging. Here are a few pointers on how to do your basic squat the right way:
- Start by standing up straight with your chest out
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider
- Extend your hands straight out in front of you or bend your elbows and clasp your fingers
- Sit back and down like you’re sitting in a chair
- With your knees over your ankles, lower down so your thighs are parallel to the floor
- Keep your weight in your heels and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position