If you're a beginner and you're learning how to properly squat, it can be scary and confusing! It's also totally normal to have a fear of falling back when you are learning how to squat.
How to set up the squat
For starters, the squat is a knee-dominant exercise, meaning the exercise is initiated by bending your knees. Here are some of the things I'd say to you during you training session to ensure a beautiful squat!
"Set your feet about shoulder width apart, toes turned out slightly. Sit back as if you were lowering yourself onto a small chair or low bench. Keep your chest proud. Think about gently pressing your knees out. When you face the mirror, take note. Where are your knees when you squat? Your knees should align with your second or third toe. Now stand profile in the mirror. How far forward do your knees travel? From the side, your knees should not travel past your big toes. Both of these cues ensure healthy knees while squatting! Inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up. Squeeze your booty at the top!"
What if sitting back feels intimidating?
Some clients have trouble sitting back far enough in the squat. Totally normal! To combat this, we would place a box or bench behind you. This way, you feel safe while practicing the squat to build strength in the movement. This is also a great technique to ensure proper squat depth as well.
Want to see this in action? Check out how to Squat to a Box with this short video!
Once you feel confident with your form, remove the box and try a Goblet Squat with a kettlebell or a dumbbell. The sky is now the limit!
For optimal strength and health, I recommend squatting in some way every time you work out. Try a goblet squat, a lunge, or a jump squat, to name a few. All of these are variations of a squat that work the same pattern.
Benefits of a squat
STRENGTH: Squats work strength in the lower body, specifically localized to glutes and quads (and core!).
PHYSIQUE: Squats add muscle, creating shape and definition to the lower body, and when done consistently, will add volume to your glutes.
FAT LOSS: Squats help elevate the heart rate and therefore can be a fat burning exercise, especially when paired with proper eating habits. Since squats, like any resistance-based exercise create muscle, you are setting your body up for overall better body composition (meaning more muscle, less body fat). Lifting heavy and often also boosts metabolism.
MOBILITY/STABILITY: Squatting strengthens the stability in your core and ankles, and works mobility of ankles, knees and hips. All helpful for a vibrant and healthy life!
HEALTH: Practicing squats keeps you strong and mobile for years to come. As we age, our ability to maintain muscle mass decreases, so strength training actually has an anti-aging effect on the body. It also decrease the risk of life threatening falls as you age.
Squats contribute to a healthy, strong, lean body and long, active life, and everyone should be squatting at least once a week, if not more! I mean, all the young kids are doin' it these days! :-)
If you'd like to start working more squats into your workouts, consider joining my Lift Lab! It is an online monthly training program that delivers four unique strength-based workouts to your inbox, and it has helped over 300 people of all levels gain confidence and strength in the gym! Learn more here!