Fitness: Get Fit
The Power of a Proper Squat
Be proud of your buns! You heard me right. Strong and firm is sexy. When women ask me the best way to firm their butts and tone their legs… I tell them to: Get their Squats On! Remember…to burn the fat that covers that beautiful muscle underneath, cardio exercise is necessary to shed the extra padding! Yup, squats can give you the lift you want in your buns and help you feel better about the way you look in your jeans, but squats can also help you live a full, active life. You need those glute muscles to do lots of everyday activities. Squats also improve the mobility in your hips, legs and upper back. And as you get older, the strength and stability you develop from squats can help you out of a chair or reach for something on the floor or simply prevent injury.
Drop and squat. Take an athletic, wide stance, point your toes outward slightly and sit back. Your butt should protrude out like you are sitting down in an invisible chair. Stay steady and strong as you squat deeper and try to keep your heels on the ground. The wider you put your feet the more it works your glutes and hamstrings (the back of your legs) and the easier it will be for you to stay stable. If your feet are a little closer, you will work your quadriceps a little more intensely (the front part of your thighs).
Make sure your knees track over your toes. Don’t let your knees cave in to the center, engage your inner thighs and quads.
Keep your chest lifted, shoulders down, abs tight. Make sure your spine is in proper alignment. Make sure you aren’t arching your back or scrunching your shoulders up around your neck. Pull your belly to your spine and contract your abs.
Don’t round your neck. Look straight ahead or find a point of focus in line with your eyes. You don’t want to round your neck or look down at the ground.
Get deep. Depending on your hip flexibility, you may be able to squat pretty low – try for quads parallel with the floor. If your flexibility isn’t yet to that level, that’s okay. Just remember that flexibility is something you can work on to improve. Aim for parallel which will deeply engage your thighs, hips and glutes.
Try different types of squats. You can squat and hold and then challenge yourself to go deeper. Try changing the tempo of your squats or stepping side to side in your squats. Want a real challenge? Add some hand weights for extra resistance or do some plyometric jump squats. That will get your heart rate up and your legs will feel it! Have you ever done a wall squat? Put your back up against the wall, sit down into your imaginary chair and hold it there…try for a minute or two. That isometric hold will give you the burn!
Oh! And remember to breathe! While squats are a challenging exercise, working squats into your workouts a few times a week, you should see a difference in your legs and buns in no time!
P.S. Once you have the proper squat down, do you want to perfect your plank?