Weighted or not, if you’re looking for an intensely powerful exercise that targets the entire body, look not further than squats. Squats are ideal for strengthening the core while toning the glutes and thigh. Adding weight through barbells, kettlebells or dumbells can really push this move to the next level.
However, strict care must be taken to maintain proper form when doing squats, not only to get the most out of your workout, but to prevent injury.
Firstly, distribute your weight do that most of it resides in your heels. This will ensure that you keep balanced – resting on your toes can easily cause you to lose balance. It also allows for a great generation of force, targeting your calves, hamstrings, glutes and spinal erectors. In addition, pressure of the oft-sensitive knees is avoided.
Next, make sure to push your hips backwards as you move down. This maintain proper alignment of the body and support the first tip by helping keep your grounding in your heels.
The third tip for optimal effectiveness is to move the knees out slightly. When you are in the squatting position, your knees should be aligned directly over the toes. Pushing them out will counteract the instinct to let them fall inward, helping engage muscles in the hips and protecting your knees.
Fourthly, push your torso upwards. Letting it drop down will alter your balance and grounding, which is dangerous if squatting with weights. Holding your torso up will help maintain control.
Lastly, ensure that you squat as low as possibly can. A good way to tell if your form is correct and effective is to check if your hip crease sits below your knees when in the squatting position. Anything too shallow will put undue stress on the knees and you will not see the desired results, as your glutes and thighs are not working as hard. The lower you go, the more your leg muscles will work. Your joints (and butt) will thank you.
Try this 7Min workout to put your knowledge of form into practice!