Squats are arguably one of the best exercises you can do for both your strength training and cardiovascular health. And no, they aren’t just for body builders.
The list of benefits one gets from incorporating squats into their workout routine is a mile long. Squats develop total-body strength, stimulate total body muscle growth, and improve overall athleticism. The most obvious benefit of squats is strengthening and building your muscles — quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and calves. As well as improving muscle mass, squats are a great exercise for weight loss as well — the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is and the quicker you burn calories. Yes, please.
A big issue with squats is that they’re often done incorrectly, which can make the move less effective or, even worse, dangerous.
If you’re worried that your squat form isn’t perfect or you’re simply seeing your gains stall and plateau, here are 8 simple ways to improve your squat (whether you’re using a bar, dumbbells, kettlebells or no equipment at all).
I’ve learnt the below from two personal trainers, all of which were expressed to me during my incessant complaining during said squats.
It’s amazing how tiny changes can fix your form and give you speedy results.
1. Mix them up.
Squats are a great form of exercise because there’s so many different types — and one of the biggest enemies of exercise is boredom. There are jump squats, sumo squats, goblet squats, pistol squats, landmine squats, dumbbell squats, zercher squats, plié squats… all the kinds of squats. There’s an entire suite of them.
You can do an entire workout based off alternating different types of squats. And it’s a great way to make your ass burn (in a good way). Changing up from your basic squats allows you to target different muscle groups. You’ll start seeing better results, fast.
2. Up your weights.
Beginners can start with no equipment, and focus on their technique. Basic squats are still a fabulous workout — and you will definitely still feel the burn.
The more you squat and nail your technique and increase your capabilities, the more you can challenge yourself. Add dumbbells, kettlebells or bars. Increase the weights in which you are squatting with to continue to up your game. With that said, remember to only lift what you can handle, and take your development safely and slowly.
3. Go deeper.
The more you squat, the more you increase what you’re capable of squatting with. But aside from adding additional weights, squatting deeper is another way to further your squatting abilities.
If performed correctly, a deep squat can greatly improve your muscle coordination, help burn excess fat and build the strength and size of your muscles.
4. Push the floor out with your feet.
One of the most helpful tips I’ve ever received when it comes to my squats is this: imagine you are pushing the floor out with your feet. With your feet planted firmly on the ground, imagine you are pushing the floor towards the walls on either side. This activates the correct muscles required to perform a proper squat, and takes unnecessary pressure off your knees.
5. Clench your glutes.
Whenever you rise up from a squat, make sure that you are clenching your glutes as you get back into thestanding position. It’s a small change, but just a little squeeze can completely change the effectiveness of your squats. When lifting up from the squat, thrust your hips forward and squeeze your butt muscles as hard as you can. Do this after every rep, and you will feel and see a difference.
To sum up — drink more water, get more sleep and squat a lot.
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