The primary and most popular exercise for strengthening the legs and back is the squat. The fitness enthusiast will not miss a single “leg day.” But are you sure of the correct execution? Do you know all kinds of squats you can use to spice up your workouts? What other benefits does this exercise have? The answer to these and other questions about squats can be found in the following article.
What are squats?
Squats are one of the best functional exercises for strengthening the lower body. When done correctly, you will strengthen your legs, buttocks, and your abs or core. However, the main advantage is that you can do the exercise anytime, anywhere, without the need for special equipment. But the wrong technique can lead to injury.
If we focused on squats in terms of their use, you would find yourself squatting almost all the time. When your keys fall, you bend over, or you do a specific type of squat when you want to tie your shoes. The only difference between these actions and targeted squats is that you consciously think about proper posture and muscle strengthening when you squat.
What muscles are trained during squats?
Squats are primarily designed to strengthen the muscles in the legs and back. However, thanks to the correct posture during their execution and several squat variations, you can use many more muscles.
During a standard body squat, you connect:
- quadriceps femoris
- inner thigh
- rectus abdominis muscles
If you are using squat weights or trying other squat variations, you can also use your muscles:
- external and internal muscles of the press
Correct squat technique
The correct squatting technique will help maximize your effort and prevent injury or muscle damage. How to do it?
- Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointing forward.
- Pull your shoulders back slightly and tighten your stomach.
- Stretch your shoulders or place your hands on your belt.
- Inhale, lower yourself slowly, bend your knees, and slightly push your buttocks back.
- Keep your back straight; do not bend it.
- Stop when you reach a position where your knees are bent at a 90 ° angle, and your hips are parallel to the floor – stay in this position for about 2 seconds.
- Place your weight on your heels, slowly straighten your legs and return to an upright position with an exhalation.
- For best results, repeat the exercise at least 10-15 times in a row.
Most common squatting mistakes
- You don’t go low enough – with the right squat technique; your hips should be parallel to the floor. However, if you do not squat low enough to reach this point, not all the required muscles will be used.
- Straining your knees is a widespread problem when doing squats. This not only makes it impossible to do the exercise correctly, but it also creates a lot of unnecessary stress on the knees, which, as a result, damages your joints and tendons.
- Work your knees inward – when lifting, your knees should point outward, not inward. When you point your knees inward, it will be easier for you to squat, but the exercise does not make sense.
- Hunchback – It is essential to keep your back upright while squatting. Otherwise, it can lead to injury. Therefore, you should avoid bending or unstable spine.
- Lifting the heels off the ground – Squats should be done with the weight on the heels. This is because if you put your weight on your heels, you will ensure that your muscles are safely and correctly balanced and loaded. Therefore, never lift your heels off the floor when lifting.
Benefits of squats
Squats not only strengthen your muscles, but they hide many other benefits. You can also improve necessary activities such as walking, sitting, or lifting and carrying heavyweights. But that’s not all! Find out what other benefits you will get from regular squats.
- maintains correct posture
- they help burn calories – a 64 kg person can approximately burn up to 133 calories in 15 minutes of intense squatting 
- improves flexibility and stability
- strengthens the lungs and heart
- helps prevent injury
- supports joint health
- supports strong bones
- improves driving speed
- improves digestion and blood circulation in the body
Types of squats
With different squat variations, you also engage other essential muscles in the exercise and spice up your workout. However, remember that if you are new to training and squatting, you should focus on understanding the correct technique for basic squats and then try other, more complex forms. You can also use various tools such as dumbbells, fitness bands, or resistance bands, kettlebells. , chairs or fitness ball. See what types of squats you can include in your workout plan.
Before doing the Bulgarian squat, you need to prepare one, one hand means – an elevation, a low chair, or bench. Stand with your back to the platform and bend your right leg so that you place the top of your foot on the platform. This will be your starting position. Then bend your left knee and begin to squat until your right leg’s knee almost touches the floor. Make sure your shoulders are back, your back is straight, and your weight is on your heels. If you want to make the exercise more difficult, you can take dumbbells.
Your leg width should be slightly wider with this type of squat than with the classic squat. Therefore, stand so that your feet are slightly farther apart than the width of your shoulders. The feet should be slightly outward. Bring your hips and shoulders back, keep your back straight, and begin the squat. Stop only when your hips drop just below knee level.
Smith Squat / Multi-Press Squats
The Smith Machine, or the so-called Multi-Press, is an excellent tool for those who have trouble squatting and find it challenging to keep their back straight. This device always maintains one trajectory of movement from which you will not deviate. This is a classic squat design, but with the weight you place on the harness. However, be careful that the heels do not come off the floor due to the weight in the starting position or, conversely, during squats. Adjust your weight so that you feel comfortable and safe.
Once you master the basic bodyweight squatting technique, it’s time to add an iron! There are several ways to do this. Or add a dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell to the squat. When using a dumbbell with one hand, make sure that the weight does not automatically outweigh you. When using the barbell on your back, make sure you don’t overload and injure yourself.
In addition to the lower body , this squat option also includes your abs and muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.
The squat’s starting position is the same as in the classic squat, but we keep our arms straight over our heads. To complicate this exercise, add weights, a barbell, or a ball.
This is a plyometric movement, which effectively means that you are doing aerobic squat exercises. Therefore, it is required that you do as many movements as possible and quickly. The jump squat technique is identical to the classic squat, but you push a little more with your heels and jump out as you get up. We recommend adding weight to this squat only when you have mastered the technique.
Squats near the wall
Stand with your back to the wall and squat slowly. The back and head should always touch the wall. Slowly move slightly away from the wall to create an essential squat position – your knees are bent at a 90 ° angle, your feet are pointing forward, and your thighs are parallel to the floor. You must remain in this position for at least one minute. You can put a barbell or kettlebell on your knees to complicate things. While this is not a dynamic type of squat, it works out your thighs and glutes.
Five aerobic types of squats. Get into the starting position of the classic squat and slowly move down. However, stay in this position, do not rise, but step with your right foot to the side. Make sure your hips are still at the same height during this movement. Then repeat the same movement with your left leg to return to the squat position. You can repeat the movement a few more times to one side and then change sides. You can also use a fitness elastic band or expander exercise to make it harder.
Squats on one leg
The ideal exercise for the muscles of the thigh and buttocks and achieve better stability. Take the starting position of the classic squat and extend one leg in front of you. Move down slowly. You can stretch your arms out to get the best balance. Keep your leg still extended. Just do as much as your body can. Do not push your knees inward and try to maintain as much stability as possible.
The best kind of squat for toning your legs that doesn’t look like a classic squat simultaneously. Take the same stance as the sumo squat, with a broader stance, extend your arms to the sides and move down. However, with full squats, your weight does not remain on your heels but instead on your toes. Therefore, stand on your toes in a squat and spread your knees so that you feel as much pressure as possible on your inner thigh muscles. This ballet style squat is wildly popular with women.
Of course, there are many squat options, so we’ve picked the most basic and most popular ones for you. What about you and the squats? Do you include them in your workouts? What type of squat do you like the most? Please share your opinion with us in the comments. If you liked the article, be sure to share it with your friends.