If every lower body workout includes one exercise, then it’s the humble squat.
A simple movement that provides numerous physical benefits is a great addition to your workout to help strengthen and tone your leg and glute muscles.
This includes the glutes (muscles of the buttocks), hamstrings (muscles in the back of the thighs), quadriceps (muscles in the front of the thighs), and calves (muscles in the back of the legs).
“The squat is a great functional exercise that helps build lower body strength and strengthen your core,” explains personal trainer and ambassador Hayley Madigan.
She adds that squats not only build muscle but also strengthen tendons, ligaments, and bones.
“Squats can improve knee strength by maintaining joint stability and can help improve lower body flexibility.
“Squats can also help support daily movement and transfer strength to everyday tasks like climbing stairs, bending over, or carrying heavy objects.”
Keep your back straight and core tight as you push your hips back, bend your knees, and slowly lower yourself.
As you do this, look ahead. Then walk through with your heels (not your toes!) and return to your feet.
If you find yourself struggling to stay low while squatting, it might be worth focusing on range of motion, mobility, and mobility in your hips, knees, back, and ankles.
“Focus on your form, not the weight you’re lifting,” Haley says, adding that ankle flexibility is also important.
Try squatting with your heels slightly elevated, perhaps resting them on a weighted plate or a thick book.
Hailey added: “Also, if you have narrow hips, your lower back can start to round out when you squat, which we want to avoid!
“Working on hip flexibility will support your range of motion and allow you to squat better while minimizing any potential back injury.”
“The most common pain when squatting occurs in the knee joint—usually just below the kneecap—and in the lower/mid back,” says Haley.
If you notice pain while squatting, it is important to eliminate the pain and not continue and ignore it, as this will only lead to further injury.
“You need to focus on keeping your spine and pelvis in a neutral position during the exercise, making sure your neck and spine are in line, keeping your chest up and chest down, and hugging your torso as you look forward.
“It helps reduce the risk of back and hip injuries and reduces any discomfort from squatting.”
Recovery also includes this and should be included in your squat program to help avoid or manage lower limb pain.
“Be sure to stretch after every workout, plan rest days in your routine, and add enough protein to help with muscle recovery.”
A protein shake may help, or choose lean protein sources such as chicken, eggs, tofu, fish, and turkey.
Either aim for two or three sets of 10 reps at a time, or pick the squats that work best for you and incorporate them into your lower body workout.
“This is a typical squat used in powerlifting, bodybuilding and traditional weightlifting,” says Haley.
“The quads and glutes are the main drivers of this squat, with the calves, hamstrings, and abs being secondary muscles.”
At home: Use your body weight or place a weight (dumbbell, food can, or water bottle) on each shoulder and hold it with your hands.
“The main goal is to put the weight in front of the body, not behind.
She adds that this type of squat requires more upper body and core strength, as well as wrist and ankle flexibility.
“Front squats involve lifting your elbows to support weight in a front stance position and then lowering into a squat.
“It’s very important that the upper body stays upright and the spine stays neutral to prevent stress on the lower back.”
To do this, you will need a dumbbell or kettlebell with a single weight on your chest in goblet position.
“Your elbows should be firmly pressed into the weight to support it, keeping your chest up and proud.
“Holding the weight firmly is essential in this exercise and requires more upper body work than other variations of the squat,” Haley says, adding that a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance is ideal. movement at all times.
“The difference in sumo squats is in the position of the legs, because you need to extend your legs into a sumo pose,” says Haley.
Ideally, take a wider than usual position with your legs and hips slightly outward.
“The knees should always follow the toes, so sumo squats require the inner thighs (adductors) to work more during the squat without the knees being pulled outward.
“Many people find that sumo squats activate the glutes more than regular shoulder-width or narrow squats.”
The one-foot movement, a typical pistol, requires the non-working leg to be straight and parallel to the floor.
The other leg—your working leg—supports your body as you lower into the squat, keeping your back straight and looking forward.
“This requires not only great strength in the working leg, but also good flexibility and mobility in the non-working leg,” explains Haley.
Squat until you touch the “seat”, then rest, and then, while your non-working leg is in front of you, push off with the heel of your working leg to rise again.
“This change requires improved stability through core, overall balance, and upper body strength,” says Haley.
“You can start doing barbell squats using only your own weight, but as you get stronger you can use plates, dumbbells, kettlebells and finally a barbell.
“Try to keep your hands in line with your ears and lock your shoulder blades to support the weight above your head,” Hailey explains.
At home: Use your body weight or hold objects over your head like a water bottle or even a weighted backpack.
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Post time: Sep-08-2022