A squat is a fundamental exercise that when done properly has profound benefits for the lower body, core, back strength, posture, and overall physique.
Squats strengthen the thighs, hips, buttocks, back, and core. The muscle groups strengthened through squat exercises help perform many other movements and exercises such as running and cycling. Many general and specialized training programs use this fundamental exercise for both the average person and elite athletes. When performed improperly, however, an incorrect form can lead to pain, muscle imbalances, and even injury. Therefore it is crucial that one squats with proper form, and working out with a personal trainer is the best way to ensure it is done correctly. Any muscular imbalances that present themselves during a squat can be corrected with the supervision of a personal trainer. Once the proper form has been mastered, there are endless variations of a traditional squat that can be used to enhance training, improve balance, and keep exercise fun.
Different equipment can be utilized to develop the framework for quality squat form. For example, using a band looped around the legs just above the knees ensures that the legs are pushed slightly outward during the movement, engaging the external rotators and other muscle groups that support a proper squat. A Swiss ball can be placed behind the back and up against a wall for extra spine support.
To practice good form, squats can first be done using simply your own bodyweight. Once one has developed a strong foundation with proper form, different equipment can be incorporated to create more of a challenge. Dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells can be used to add weight. Bosu balls and balance boards provide an added challenge to improve balance and stability, and resistance bands can increase the intensity for an extra burn and provide support for proper form.
- Head facing forward
- Chest open
- Shoulders back and down
- Core engaged
- Neutral Spine
- Feet hip width apart
- Hips back
- Knees in line with toes
- Squat until thighs are parallel to ground, then return to start
Proper Squat Form:
Improper Squat Form:
- Head protruding forward
- Chest facing down
- Arched or rounded spine
- Knees in front of toes
- Legs collapse inward
**When using a barbell, be sure to place bar below the neck, in between the shoulder blades. This ensures that your head, neck, and spine all remain in one line and will keep the head from protruding forward.
**If you experience tightness in your calves or hamstrings, heels can be elevated on a mat or plate.
- Barbell squat
- Dumbbell squat
- Kettlebell squat
- Closed loop band
- Bosu squat
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