An in-depth guide into one of the most basic exercises and why it pays to get the squat just right every time you work out.
The humble squat is what you call a foundational movement. Even before we can walk, we were already squatting. If you’ve ever seen a toddler drop into a perfect squat to pick up a toy, you know what we’re talking about here. It’s only when we get older that squatting means “potential back pain” and “wobbly knees.”
All in all, however, squatting is—and should be—an essential part of everybody’s workout regimen. Squats engages your core muscles and strengthens your lower body, while helping you prevent knee and ankle injuries. Furthermore, squats help you maintain flexibility well into your later years and actually help promote healthy bone density.
So, in short, squats are highly beneficial. at is, if you regularly do it as part of a regular workout routine—and if you do it properly. While it’s definitely a simple exercise, there are quite a few fine points to doing it absolutely right and therefore get the maximum bene ts of each squat, all while avoiding bad form and potential injuries. And here, we’ll go through some of the most important tips for the perfect squat…
Sit Back With Your Hips
A rather common mistake when attempting to squat is moving the knees forward until they go over your toes instead of sitting back using your hips. An easy way to get into the right habit is by standing about 30cm in front of a bench (feet about shoulder-width apart and facing away from the bench) and then sinking your hips down and back until you can gently brush the top of the bench with your behind before standing back up.
Push Your Knees Outward
Another common mistake is when your knees collapse inward. To combat this, placing a miniband just over your knees can help encourage proper muscle movement.
Keep Your Spine in a Neutral Position
When you do a squat, you should be engaging your hips, knees and ankles. Your torso should not be doing the work and your spine should be in a neutral position—that is, your shoulders pulled down and back, and your lower back (the lumbar spine, if you want to be technical about it) in a natural curve. This part is actually rather important as it helps you avoid back pain.
Exactly how low you should squat down to get the best effects is still a matter of debate. at being said, the lower you squat, the more you engage your glutes. A good rule of thumb would be to squat as low as you can, as long as you don’t feel any pain and you can maintain a neutral spine position.
As you get out of a squat, remember to press your knees outward and fully extend your hips forward at the top of the movement. There’s actually a unique visualization trick to help you with the part where you press outwards with your knees. First, imagine you’re standing on top of a spread-out newspaper sheet. Then, as you move up, press your feet apart as if you’re trying to tear the paper in half.
Mix It Up and Challenge Yourself
After you can perform the squat with proper form, you can start thinking about adding extra challenges. e goblet squat—where you hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest—is a good example. Once again, the squat is a pretty basic form of exercise. But like any other fundamental workout, it really pays to get it right and make it part of your overall repertoire, especially since this is something that can help you improve your core as you maintain peak performance and improve your overall condition for your later years.
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