Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Don't know (how to) squat? You should

Squats may very well be the workout movement many love to hate, but the rewards are well worth the time invested in performing them. They have often been thought to be a no-no for knees, but when performed correctly, they actually improve knee stability and strengthen connective tissue. Squats are fundamental movements we perform every time we sit and stand, and for that reason alone, it is important to know how to do them safely and effectively. As squats strengthen your mobility and improve balance, everyday movements will become easier to perform. And improving your squats will improve most any sporting activity you choose to do.

We always say squats tone and strengthen every major muscle group in the lower body. While that is true, they do much more. Along with the thighs, hips, buttocks and calf muscles, squats build core strength and, when done properly, dynamically involve the lower and upper back. Because squats are compound exercises, which means you are working multiple muscle groups at one time, you will burn more calories than when you work the muscles in isolation.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at slafit@tampabay.rr.com.

Five Body-weight Squat Mistakes

1 Rounding the chest and back. This places too much stress on the spine. Keep your shoulders back and chest out to maintain the natural curve of the lower back.

2 Letting knees move inward or bow outward. This puts too much pressure on the tendons and ligaments, potentially causing knee injuries.

3 Looking down toward the ground. This negatively affects the alignment of the spine. Look straight ahead or slightly upward, keeping head and neck in a neutral position.

4 Lifting heels off the floor. This places too much pressure on your knees.

5 Not using a hip-hinge pattern to initiate movement. Hip hinging occurs when you push hips to the back rather than pushing knees forward while lowering hips toward the floor.

Common Variations of Squats

• Body-weight squats (no equipment)

• Wall squats (using a stability ball)

• Weighted squats (using barbells or weights)

• Plyometric squats (jump squats)

Gradually build to two or three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions; beginners should start with one set of eight to 10 reps.

. Basic chair squat: Stand in front of a chair with feet slightly wider than hip width apart, toes pointed forward. Push hips to the back and bend your knees, lowering hips as if you were sitting in a chair, thighs parallel to floor. Avoid pushing knees forward beyond toes. Extending your arms to chest level as you lower your hips will act as a counterbalance. Press into heels when returning to a standing position, without locking knees.

, Wall squat: With back against the wall, place feet hip distance apart about 2 feet in front of you. As you bend your knees, slide down the wall until thighs are parallel to the floor, with knees over ankles. Slide feet a little farther out, if necessary, for proper alignment. Extend arms to the front, shoulder height, for balance. Hold 30 to 60 seconds, then return to a standing position. Adding a stability ball can help you get into the correct squat position while providing back support. Place ball against wall, positioning it behind your lower back.

n Plie squat: This squat offers a different placement of the feet, placing more emphasis on inner thigh muscles. With a wide stance, point toes at about a 45-degree angle. If holding weights, you may hold them at your sides or place them on hips. Keeping back straight, lower into a squat position, but only as far as you feel comfortable. Hold for desired time, then push into the heels to return to a standing position. Keeping abdominals contracted will help with balance.

Don't know (how to) squat? You should 10/26/15 [Last modified: Monday, October 26, 2015 4:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After huge sinkhole opens, residents weigh future with unease

    Public Safety

    LAND O'LAKES — The wood floors creak each time Kendra Denzik dashes inside her darkened home to grab fresh clothes. She can't help but panic when they do.

    Eleven families along Ocean Pines Drive in Land O’Lakes homes are fenced in due to the massive sinkhole from last Friday on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The Doohen’s are among 11 families who had to evacuate from their homes.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Photo gallery: Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    News

    Taylor Payne, 24, and Tom Fornarola, 23, are two of the 23 first-year umpires scattered around the bottom rungs of minor-league baseball this summer. They never met until they were assigned together but quickly developed a strong rapport. Like the players themselves, the two umpires have dreams of reaching the major …

  5. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.