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How to Squat Correctly and Why You Should Incorporate Squats into Your Workout

Squats may seem like a pain in the rear end- literally and figuratively- but they are truly a powerhouse exercise. Regardless of your age or fitness level, squats are a key exercise and you should be regularly incorporating them into your workouts. Below are 3 reasons you should be squatting and a few squat variations for you to do to keep your squats fresh and fun!

1. Squats strengthen your core. 
A strong core is the key to staying healthy longer, as it's the pillar of the body. The core muscles are responsible for moves like twisting, bending, standing, and balancing. A strong core is also vital to a good posture. 

2. Squats strengthen your lower body.
Your lower body houses some of the largest muscles in your body, so it just makes sense to want to make them stronger. Why? Well, those muscles play a major role in every day activities- from sitting down at your desk, to getting out of bed, to hopping in your car- these muscles are used frequently and benefit from strength-training exercises like squats. When these major muscles are in good shape, you may even discover that you can move more comfortably, with less pain, and that everything from walking to bending to exercising is easier to do.

 

3. Squats strengthen your bones.
In one research project, a group of post-menopausal women living with osteoporosis embarked on a squatting routine for 12 weeks. By the end of the routine, bone density in their necks and spines had increased by 2.9% and 4.9% respectively. This study shows that squatting plays a role in building up bone strength and suggests that squats are very important to bone health. 

So, how do you do a traditional squat?! It's easy! 
 

  • Stand with your feet apart and parallel to each other.

  • Place your hands on your thighs.

  • Look up and lift your chest.

  • Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, putting all your weight on your heels and sitting back slowly.

  • Your knees shouldn't go beyond your toes, and your head and chest should stay upright.

  • Hold the position for 5 seconds.

  • Rise back up, pressing through your heels, and straighten your hips back to the starting position.
     

Once you've got a good handle on a traditional squat, you can start adding variations to your squats to keep them fresh and fun and challenging to your muscles. 

Here are few fun squat variations that will have you feeling the burn:

1. The Wall Squat

Wall squats are excellent for folks with knee or hip problems because they provide a bit of extra support. 

  • Stand with your back against a wall and step your feet out about 12 inches from the wall.

  • Bend your knees, dropping into a squat while keeping your back pushed to the wall throughout the movement.

  • Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground. Push up through your heels back to the starting position.
     

2. The Plié Squat
This one is excellent for targeting those hips! 

  • Start with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out.

  • Bend your knees, dropping until your thighs are parallel to the ground, or as far as you can go. Keep your chest up throughout the movement.

  • Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

3. The Curtsy Squat
If your aiming to give a little extra attention to the glutes, the curtsy squat is your move!

  • Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips.

  • Step your right leg back, crossing it behind your left, like you’re curtsying, bending your left leg and stopping when your thigh is parallel to the ground.

  • Return to start and complete with your opposite leg.
     

4. The Overhead Squat
This one requires a bit more balance, stability, and flexibly, but with the added weight, it's a great challenge for your body! 

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out. Hold a barbell or ball over your head with a wide grip.

  • Keeping your chest and head up, sit back into your hips, letting your thighs go just past parallel to the ground.

  • Drive through your heels to return to start.

5. The Squat Walk
Ready to feel the burn?! The squat walk increases the length of time is muscle is working, so this one move will definitely help you tone up! 

  1. Drop down into a basic squat.

  2. Without coming up to the start position, walk one foot in front of the other.