Squat exercises are great for a total lower body workout. They effectively work most of the major muscle groups of the butt, hips and thighs. Squats are also a versatile exercise. They can be done in almost any location, with or without the use of weights or equipment.
Tones the Legs
Squat exercises thoroughly engage the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles, which helps to tone and strengthen the legs. Slowing the motion down makes the workout that much more intense.
Lifts the Butt
Doing squats gives the glutes a powerful workout, helping to tighten and lift the butt. To increase this effect, give your glutes an extra squeeze when returning to a standing position.
Strengthens the Core
Squats engage the core muscles of the body. Abdominal and back muscles are needed to keep balance during the movement. The result is a tighter, flatter abdomen and a stronger lower back. Make a conscious effort to hold in your abdominal muscles while squatting down to increase this effect.
Doing squats increases joint flexibility. The ankles, knees, hips and lower back are all utilized in the squatting motion. Be sure to maintain proper form to avoid injury. If you feel any pain in these areas, stop doing the exercises until the pain is gone.
Upper Body Workout
Adding weights to your squat routine engages the muscles of the upper body, essentially giving you a full body workout in one exercise. You can accomplish this with the use of a barbell, dumbbells or a weighted vest. When adding weights to your routine, start with lighter ones and build as your strength increases.
How to Do a Common Squat Exercise
- Stand with your feet hip width apart.
- Tighten and pull in your abdominal muscles.
- Lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep the motion slow.
- Stop when your legs are parallel to the floor.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds.
- Now press down onto your heels and slowly rise back up to a standing position.
- Repeat the exercise for a total of 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
- Be sure to rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Once you're comfortable with doing squats, you can increase the difficulty by adding weights. Try holding dumbbells at shoulder level or use a barbell across your shoulders. You can also use one dumbbell; hold it in front of you with both hands while squatting. It's especially important to maintain proper form when using weights. Keep your knees aligned with your feet and don't squat beyond the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Squat exercises are a motion that your body uses often in real life. Whenever you bend down to pick something up, you'll be thankful that, because of your squat exercise routine, you'll have the strength and flexibility to get the job done.