The squat is often called the king of all exercises. When performed correctly, it's one of the best all-around exercises for total body strength and conditioning. When using resistance as described below, the squat uses muscles of the legs, hips, core, back, shoulders and arms.
We'll use body weight and dumbbells to perform this exercise, but you can also use a barbell, kettlebells or even a rubber band for resistance.
To perform: Begin with your feet shoulder width apart while holding your arms straight out. Slowly squat down as you inhale, ensuring that your heels stay heavy, while pushing your hips back and maintaining the natural curve in your low back. Drop down to a depth where you still feel like you have control of your body. Exhale as you stand back to the top, but don't lock your knees all the way out. Repeat for 15 to 20 slow-controlled repetitions.
Try to avoid: If you have limited flexibility, it's very easy to lose your form as you squat down. Avoid letting your heels pop up off the floor and don't push your knees forward past your toes. Also be aware of your overall posture -- at no time should your back become rounded, nor should your chin protrude forward or drop down toward your chest. Also avoid bouncing back up out of the squatted position.
How to progress: A simple way to progress the squat is to add resistance. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at shoulder height. Perform the squat as described above, but keep the dumbbells held firmly in place throughout the exercise. The heavier the weight, the more your body will be challenged.
So get back to the basics and take advantage of the squat and all the benefits it has to offer. Add this variation to your weekly routine for a great total body workout. For more exercise and nutrition tips, visit our blog at PushFitnessTraining.com or find us on Facebook and Pinterest.
• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at PushFitnessTraining.com.