Whether your focus is on losing weight, toning your legs, or improving athleticism with speed and vertical jump development, there is one common exercise that will accomplish your goals: the squat.
HOW TO SQUAT
I'm hoping that at this point in life, you've used the bathroom before. Congratulations, you've performed a squat. But there are a few key points to correctly engaging the leg muscles and having proper form when squatting.
1.) Keep the heels down. Push through the heels or flat of the foot rather than the toes to keep stress off your knees.
2.) Keep your joints aligned. Your knees and hips should be in line with your feet as your lower your body. If your knees move in/out as you go down, you're putting stress on the wrong parts of your joints.
3.) Keep your back straight and your chest out. Rounding your back defeats the purpose of the squat. You want good posture the entire time.
4.) Keep your weight back. The best way to check that your balance is correct is to keep your "nose behind your toes." At the bottom of your squat, check where your nose is. If it is in front of where your toes are, you need to keep your upper body more upright.
BENEFITS OF SQUATTING
Now that you know how to squat, let's talk about how it helps us. Squatting helps develop the key muscles in our lower bodies, most notably the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Any athlete knows that strengthening these muscles will make them a stronger, faster, more explosive player. And since muscle burns more calories throughout the day than fat, strengthening your nice big leg muscles is one of the fastest ways to shed some weight and tighten up. Squats tighten and lift your booties, and yes, they engage the core/abs as well.
Even more than strengthening our legs, squats help us with joint flexibility. So many of us lose flexibility in our hips, knees, and ankles as we get older. Just a few squats a day will really help to stretch these joints out and increase our range of motion.
The best thing about the squat movement is that there are so many variations on it. There's also several ways to vary the resistance applied to the exercise. You can hold weight on the front of your body to load up your quads or you can put weight on your back to make the exercise more glute/hamstring dominant.
From a movement perspective, you can target different muscle fibers by changing the speed of your squats. To produce more powerful, explosive fast- twitch muscle fibers, you can do squat jumps. To work on your slow-twitch and stabilizer muscles, you can do a squat hold. And to target the outer thighs and hips while adding a cardio element, you can do "squat in-and-outs", which can be seen here:
NOW YOU KNOW SQUAT
Alright, now you're ready to go out and conquer the world one squat at a
time! From here on out, anytime you go to pick up a heavy object, or unload one (eww) you're going to have perfect form. Sorry, too much bathroom humor for one day...
President | Sweat City