Squats are one of the most effective and functional movements you can do to improve your fitness. Heck, you can even get a massive benefit for your everyday life too.
Whether it's squatting down to pick up a box, or just getting up from the couch, we squat all the time.
It makes you think ... "Wow, squats are pretty important!" They are ... and that's exactly what I want to talk about today.
If you need help with your squats ... You came to the right place.
In this article, I'm going to cover how to do a squat properly, and the benefits of squatting regularly.
That way, you'll walk away with all the knowledge you need to squat, do it well, and reap the reward!
What Are The Benefits of Squatting?
Squats are great for more reasons than meet the eye. For one, they work some of the largest muscles in your body. These are muscles in your lower body like your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
Activating these large muscle groups can be great for building muscle and burning a ton of calories!
On top of that, squats are also great for strengthening your core and obliques ... No crunches required! In fact, your entire core is utilized during squats to keep your spine stable during the movement. This can also improve your posture over time!
Want to jump higher or be more explosive? You guessed it ... Squats can help there too. This is because the movement patterns of a squat closely resemble the mechanics of starting a sprint, breaking, and jumping.
If you thought the benefits ended there ... you're wrong. Squats can also help prevent weak joints and decrease your risk of injury by improving your flexibility.
Pretty essential? I think so. Now let's get into how to squat correctly. That way, you'll feel confident the next time you're ready to go low at the gym!
How to Do a Basic Squat
For squats, form is everything. We have to make sure we get this started off the right way.
Before you begin, make sure you locate a squat rack and a barbell. Load the bar with a weight you're comfortable with and rack the bar at chest height.
Next, it's time to position your feet.
Stand with your feet parallel to each other and shoulder-width apart. Your toes should be turned out slightly and you should have a slight bend in your knees.
Reach out to grab the bar slightly outside of shoulder-width apart. Now, step underneath the bar and rest it on top of your traps or upper back.
Extend your knees to straighten out your legs and stand with the barbell on your back. Take a couple steps back and reposition your feet. Remember, they should be roughly shoulder-width apart with your toes rotated slightly outward.
Make sure to keep your chest tall, core braced, and back straight throughout the entire movement ... This will help prevent injury and properly engage the right muscles.
Before you start, take a deep breath in. Now, start your squat by hinging at your hips and bending your knees to descend. Keep descending slowly into the squat until you can't go any lower.
A good depth to shoot for is getting your thighs to be parallel with the floor. If you can go even lower, that's great!
When you reach your maximum range of motion though, squeeze your glutes and drive through your feet to stand.
When you reach the top, exhale before repeating again.
That's all there is to it! Really there are only a few big takeaways here...
General Tips For a Safe & Effective Squat
Here are some things you should always remember when you go to squat...
1. Always Keep Your Head, Neck, and Spine in a Neutral Position
The more you squat, and the more weight you add ... the more crucial it will be to maintain a neutral back.
Supporting a lot of weight from a barbell sitting on your back can be very taxing on your spine. That's why it's super important to make sure your core is braced and you're conscious of your spinal alignment.
If the weight feels heavy and your back starts to round or arch ... lower the weight! It's always better to focus on perfecting your form before adding more weight.
2. Drive Through Your Entire Foot
This is one of the most common mistakes I see with squats. Make sure you are always distributing your weight evenly between the heel and ball of your feet.
A good way to track this is by making sure that neither your heels, arches, or toes come off the floor. Pretend like your feet are super glued to the ground ... That’s a great way to visualize it. Plus, it's kinda fun too.
Beginners are notorious for their heels lifting off the ground. This weakens the entire movement and shows a lack of ankle mobility or calf flexibility.
If your weight is shifted too far forward as well, that can cause the heels to lift. The solution: Drive through the heels as you squat down and increase the pressure.
Just know if your weight is distributed unevenly ... Your body will compensate. Oftentimes, it compensates in a way that can affect your squat form negatively and even lead to postural imbalances.
So keep your eyes peeled for this mistake!
3. Get Your Breathing Down
It's super important that you're breathing properly during a squat. If you mess it up ... the consequence could be passing out!
Make sure you're taking a deep inhalation before you descend into your squat. While you're descending, hold your breath until you explode back upward.
At this point, you can exhale while standing, or as you reach the top of the squat.
Keeping this rhythm will ensure you're getting plenty of oxygen to fuel your squats and also help with bracing your core.
4. If you're Going Heavy ... Get a Spotter!
Trying a new weight out on the squat bar? Grab a partner!
There's nothing worse than hurting yourself because the weight was too heavy to lift.
Trust me when I say, you don't want to be caught in a squat that you can't get out of. Always ask for a spotter to help move the weight if you can't do it alone.
Time to Squat!
I hope by now you're feeling pretty confident in what you need to do for a proper squat.
One last tip I wanted to leave you with is this: If you're in the gym and you need help ... ask!
Just make sure they know what they're talking about. Your gym may even have a few trainers who wouldn't mind giving you some pointers.
If you need extra help or want a planned approach for improving your form, workouts, and pursuing your fitness goals ... Download the 1st Phorm App!
Not only does the app give you custom workout plans and instructional videos so you know you're doing them correctly ... You'll also get access to:
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No matter what you're trying to accomplish ... We're always here to help. You can reach out to us anytime and one of our NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Certified Nutrition Coaches will be happy to help for free! Give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send an email to CustomerService@1stPhorm.com and we'll get you on track to earning the results you want today!