DROP IT LOW
HOW TO DO PROPER SQUATS FOR THE BEST RESULTS
Squats are a move that is at the very core of any good workout routine. Though squats are known as primarily a lower-body exercise, they fire up pretty much every major muscle you have — including your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and the entire core, and also help you stay strong as you age. Before progressing to a super heavy barbell or mixing your leg-day routine with squat variations, we bring you a guide on all things squats, spanning its benefits, executing it with proper form and more.
PERFORMING A SQUAT WITH PROPER FORM
Whether you plan on sticking to bodyweight squats or adding resistance into the mix, you have to squat properly to reap the benefits.
1. ADJUST YOUR STANCE BASED ON YOUR LEG MOBILITY.
Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward (and slightly outward at 11 and 1 o’clock) and arms at sides. If you have longer legs, you may need to widen your feet to create extra space for hips.
2.IMAGINE AN INVISIBLE SEAT.
On an inhale, engage core and push hips back as if lowering into a chair. As you squat down, your upper body should never fall forward. Keep your chest up with a neutral spine.
3.FOCUS ON YOUR ALIGNMENT.
Keep torso upright and spine straight, press knees outward and distribute weight evenly between both feet during the motion. Imagine your knees are a train and feet are the train track.
Continue lowering until thighs are at least parallel with the floor. Stop right before you catch yourself rounding the lower back and a posterior pelvic tilt.
5.REVERSE THE MOVEMENT WITH AN EXHALE.
Press through heels and corkscrew feet on to the floor to return to standing. Pretend like you’re picking up a RM100 note with your butt cheeks, and you’re pinching it and holding it. It may seem a little bit silly, but it’s super helpful to actually use your glutes to get out of the squat.
6.CHECK YOUR POSTURE AT THE TOP.
When you stand tall, you want hips, knees and shoulders to be stacked. Everything is in a nice neutral line.
COMMON SQUAT MISTAKES
NOT LOW ENOUGH
If you can continue to squat lower once your thighs are parallel with the floor, keep going. Reducing the range of motion reduces the movements’ muscle-strengthening benefits. As long as your torso stays upright, you can press your knees outward and your feet stay flat on the ground, you’re clear to keep dropping your squat.
YOU BOUNCE OUT OF THE BOTTOM OF YOUR SQUAT
To benefit from squats, you need to stay in control throughout the entire movement. Bouncing means you’re not in control which can greatly increase your risk of injury. If you bounce out of the bottom of bodyweight squats, incorporate box squats which involve squatting down onto a box or chair and coming to a complete stop before rising back up to build strength. Isometric squats help in this department too.
YOUR KNEES COLLAPSE INWARD
Friendly reminder — at no point during a squat should you look like you’re doing the stanky leg dance move. Warm up your limbs and be mindful to keep your knees from collapsing inwards when rising from your squat.
YOUR CHEST DROPS FORWARD
Throughout a squat, you want to keep your chest as upright and proud as possible. When the chest starts to slant forward, it compromises your lower-back in a not-so-good position. Often, the chest drop occurs when you try to squat lower than your mobility allows. So, keep your squats a little shallower or work on your mobility first.
BENEFITS OF SQUATS:
SQUATS HELP YOU BUILD STRONGER GLUTES
Your glutes do a lot of the work during squats, so the move is a must for strengthening them. Having strong glutes helps protect your lower back, which overcompensates when weak and often leading to tightness and pain.
SQUATS DOUBLE AS A CORE WORKOUT
When you squat, your core engages to keep you balanced and stable, so you work your entire midsection with every rep. A strong core is so important for maintaining posture, keeping you steady and your ability to age gracefully.
SQUATS CAN MAKE YOU A BETTER RUNNER
Since squatting equals stronger glutes and stronger glutes equals faster running, squats are an absolute must for anyone who run regularly. There’s no doubt that squatting will make you a faster, better runner.
SQUATS HELP REV YOUR METABOLISM
Since squats engage some of the biggest muscles in your body, they’re an incredibly effective move for building lean muscle. Muscles burn more calories than fat (even when you’re mid-Netflix binge), so having more muscle on your bod means you’ll have a higher metabolic rate and burn more calories every single day. Over time, this can help you lose body fat and feel more toned.