The squat.

Where do you begin when there are thousands of theories out there explaining how to do them? A key thing to remember is: the quality of the rep rather than the number of reps you perform and the weight you squat is paramount. This age-old movement has gained recent traction for being an effective way to grow the glutes and you can undoubtedly count on this exercise to improve the size and shape of your posterior. But what else does it provide you?
  • It builds your leg muscles; quads, hamstrings, calves, the whole deal. The range of movement in the squat also promotes muscle growth all over the body.
  • Real-life activities become easier and run smoother. When you squat, you replicate movements you do everyday‚ ranging from sitting in a chair, getting into your car and picking up an object.
  • You burn more fat, and one of the best ways to burn fat is to gain muscle.
  • It prevents injury. A lot of injuries involve smaller, weaker muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which are strengthened and activated by squatting.
  • It improves your flexibility and balance. Squats improve the range of motion in your hips and ankles.
So, what are the steps to a perfect bodyweight/air squat?
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with your hands out in front of you for stability.
  2. Break at the hips first, then knees as if you were going to sit in a chair.
  3. Go as low as you can without placing any pressure on your joints, but instead focus on your muscle contractions.
  4. Ensure you are not leaning too far forward.
  5. Drive through your heels to come back up into a standing position.
And what do you need to consider when you add weight?
  • Hips - whenever you squat, hinge your hips so your bottom moves backwards during the downward phase. This ensures you don't put pressure on your knees but on your heels.
  • Positioning your vision picking a spot on the wall and resisting from looking around or moving your head will protect the alignment of your spine and help you balance.
  • Positioning your body - keep your chest out and up, and your shoulders back.
  • Back arch - a slight arch in the back or neutral if you like, is the best position to avoid rounding your back or arching too much - which can cause serious injury to your spine.
  • Positioning your knees and toes - slightly pointed out toes will assist in stabilising your body while keeping your knees out protects them.
  • Breathing - inhale as you go down and exhale as you drive up. Refer to our THE IMPORTANCE OF BREATHING article to find out more.
  • Depth - try to aim for parallel to below parallel for the best results.

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