Anybody who is trying to improve their fitness levels, starting an exercise programme or already regularly works out needs to be familiar with the squat. But how do you squat properly?
The squat has many health benefits if performed correctly. It is a functional move and can improve your overall health, it can ensure you gain strength and build muscle.
It is such a productive exercise and works many different muscle groups at one time. It is known as ‘The King of Exercise’.
Improper form and techniques can cause injuries and reverse the good results the squat brings. It is ideal to learn and practise the correct form without any weights.
Once you have mastered the correct form, you will be good to go and prevent any future injuries.
We’ve created this guide to teach you how to squat properly and effectively. You are sure to understand at the end the correct form and all the health benefits that surround squats.
Health Benefits of Squats
Gain Strength & Build Muscle Mass
Not only will your legs gain strength, but your overall body will gain strength.
The core will benefit from squats, if kept engaged. Squats help to strengthen the lower back muscle and the stomach muscles.
Squats, when performed correctly, cause the body to release testosterone and the human growth hormone. These are essential to the growth and building of muscle mass.
Adding weights to the squat will also provide more benefits and offer a greater chance of building muscle mass. Even just squatting with a bottle of water can help to improve muscle mass.
Squats can burn fat and get you leaner, especially weighted squats.
Building muscle means your body is burning calories and fat even after you’ve stopped exercise.
It is known that high rep strength training keeps your metabolism elevated after your workout. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption is the thing that keeps your body burning fat.
For every pound of muscle your body has, you can burn an extra 35-50 calories a day in rest mode.
It doesn’t sound like much but if you gained 5 pounds of muscle, you can burn up to 250 extra calories a day.
Increase Fitness & Endurance
Squats work multiple muscle groups at the same time, this means that your endurance will improve quicker compared to exercises that work single muscle groups.
Increasing your muscle mass through strength training will also improve stamina. A combination on strength training and cardio will provide numerous benefits to endurance and stamina.
A good starting point to build explosiveness is with a squat. Building explosiveness all over will provide numerous benefits.
Heavy squats will help to build explosiveness in the legs, they will make you super strong but they are not for beginners.
Increasing explosiveness means having the ability to do more work in the same time. For example, stronger legs would mean you could squat more in the same amount of time.
There is risk of crumbling when heavy squatting. You need to have to foundation of strength already.
Strengthen Bones & Joints
Any kind of exercise will strengthen bones and joints, this is important for us especially as we get older.
Strength training is essential into strengthening bones and joints. Adding weight to exercises, such as dumbbells or kettlebells will allow for extra bone density to be built.
When squatting add that extra weight to reap in the benefits, even if you use a tin of beans at first, it all makes a positive difference.
Increase Balance & Flexibility
The challenge is squatting below parallel if you haven’t recently done it. You need to be flexible to squat in the first place.
Squatting regularly puts your legs through various different movements, keeping your legs and hips flexible.
Hip flexibility can prevent lower back pain.
Training your mind and body builds discipline. Performing hard tasks and sticking to them helps to keep you focused.
Staying focused, building disciplines and mental fortitude will get you results in the gym.
This discipline transfers over to other aspects of your life, such as eating well, improving your sleep pattern and keeping you concentrated.
Squats can tone your abs, legs and butt. That’s not bad going for one exercise. There aren’t many other exercises that work so many different muscle groups.
Adding weights and varying the squat will keep your body burning fat and building muscle. As well as toning different areas of the legs and butt.
Thighs – Your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and adductors are all targeted with the squat.
Calves – Squats work the main calf muscles – gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
Lower back – Squats strengthen the spine – the erector spinae.
Abs – They strengthen the rectus abdominis and the obliques (six-pack muscles).
Arms – Grip strength and arms are strengthened when squatting with a barbell.
The Correct Posture When Squatting
Hinge hips to ensure the butt moves backwards whilst reaching the bottom of the squat. Keep the pressure on the heels of the foot rather than on the toes.
Keep looking forward, focus on something in front of you. Maintain a straight-headed position.
Keep the chest out and shoulders back.
Slightly arch the lower back with a natural curve.
Slightly bend the knees, keep feet on the ground and toes pointed out slightly.
Inhale when squatting downwards and exhale when pushing up. Maintain this breathing pattern.
Being parallel with the floor is ideal, although depending on hip flexibility you may be able to go lower.
Buying or using a quality squat rack will help with your squats. Check out this guide to squat racks from Garage Gym Builder.
Different Types of Squats
Body Weight Squats – use your bodyweight to perform the squat.
Plie Squats – Feet need to be angled outwards and need to be wider than hip width apart.
Pulse Squats – Perform a regular squat but instead of coming up fully, stop halfway and reach the bottom again and then repeat.
Plyometric Squats – Position yourself into the bodyweight squat, reach the floor then explode up and land lightly.
Single Leg Squats -Extend one leg in front (or behind) keeping it as straight as possible and then squat – alternate legs.
Goblet Squats – Position your feet wider than hip width apart and angled outwards, then hold a kettlebell or dumbbell at chest level whilst you squat.
Barbell Squats – Position a barbell on the trapezius muscle and squat with regular form. Add more weight as you progress.