How to do squats successfully
Written by Greg Marshall, The GYM at City Creek
When it comes exercising and strengthening the body, there are few exercises that can compare to the squat. Squats help build up the quadriceps and hamstrings, otherwise known as your legs. Squats also help to strengthen your core.
The first thing to remember when doing a squat is to make sure that you are starting off with a very light weight and make sure that you warm up your legs, lower back, knees and joints so you are ready to go. This will help prevent injury and allow you to improve your squat workout intensity.
Typically when you do warm up sets, you will want to do two sets of fifteen to twenty reps to make sure you are thoroughly warmed up. Second, make sure that your knees never go over your toes, as this puts unnecessary and even dangerous stress on your knees, which could cause all kinds of future problems. The third thing to remember when doing squats is that you want to make sure that you suck your belly button in toward your spine to keep your core tight and engaged. This will help keep your back straight to prevent injury. This will not only give you an indirect core workout but will also force your legs to get a better workout because they are doing all of the work as opposed to using your lower back and momentum (which is a big mistake most people make).
The fourth thing that you want to do is to squat down as close as you can to ninety degrees. You want to pretend like you are going to sit on a chair by pushing your glutes back and sitting. If you can’t go ninety degrees, go as low as you can with comfort and just make it a goal to eventually go down to ninety degrees or close to it.
And when you come up after you squat down, make sure you don’t lock your knees. Instead, keep them slightly bent, almost to full extension so you get the full range of motion. Modified squats are still beneficial and you can do them with a barbell, smith machine, exercise ball or your body weight. The key to doing squats is to do them as long as you are healthy and completely control the movement.
Start off light with squats and each week try to challenge yourself by increasing the weight by five pounds, doing more reps or decreasing the amount of rest you take in between sets.