Learning the proper way to do a squat
The squat is often called the king of all exercises.
When performed correctly, it's one of the best all-around movements for total body strength and conditioning.
When squatting with extra resistance as described below, the squat uses muscles of the legs, hips, core, back, shoulders, and arms.
Many people avoid or limit squatting because they feel it's too challenging or have fears of injuring themselves. A proper squat will not only strengthen the body's largest muscles, but it will improve posture and mobility, which can prevent injury and help you move better.
To perform: Begin with feet hip- to 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 spine.
Drop down to a depth where you still feel like you have control of your body and can maintain balance. Exhale as you stand back to the top, but don't lock your knees all the way out. Repeat for your desired 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 slouched.
To avoid excess stress on the knees, initiate your squat by pushing back at the hip joint. Postpone bending your knees until after you feel your hips shift backward. If you're not getting proper hip movement, you'll have a hard time performing the squat correctly.
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 greater the challenge. Never compromise form just to add more weight. Of course, you can add resistance using dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, rubber bands, or a weighted vest, just to name a few.
So get back to this basic, but effective exercise and take advantage of all the squat has to offer. Add this variation to your weekly routine for a great total body workout. For more exercise and nutrition tips visit PushFitnessTraining.com for links to our blog and social media resources.
• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.