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 [email protected]
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)