by Angie Miller
A Squat is a functional move we perform in everyday life. We stand, sit, and bend throughout the day, whether we’re at home, in the office, or out for entertainment. Functional exercises are critical for good posture and body alignment, as well as balance, injury prevention, and core stability.
Squats are one of my favorite exercises because they tone and shape our gluteals, or what I fondly refer to as our powerhouse. If our glutes are strong our lower back has protection, and our lower back is an area that is prone to injury.
One of the best things about squats is that they’re complex exercises that recruit multiple muscles; therefore you expend more energy and burn calories more efficiently. Think of them as smart exercises, but remember that anything that makes your body smarter is going to require practice.
That being said, to prevent any “squatastrophies,” yes that’s a word I just made up, here’s the 411 on proper squat form, along with some visuals to bring it to life.
Step One: Stand with your feet hip distance apart, toes pointed forward or slightly outward, torso long and extended, and shoulders down and back. To start your squat, bend your hips and knees in a slow controlled manner, making sure that your torso stays strong and stable and your head in line with your spine.
Caution: Avoid arching your lower back or hinging too far forward at the hips.
Step Two: As you squat, imagine tapping an invisible wall behind you with your gluteals. Keep your eyes focused forward and your weight into your heels.
Caution: Avoid letting your knees to go past your toes, and do not allow your heels to rise off of the floor at any point during the exercise.
Tip: You can continue the downward phase of the movement until your thighs are parallel to the floor, (if possible); or until you will no longer be able to maintain good form and alignment.
Step Three: As you start the upward phase of the movement, load slightly into your heels, engage your gluteals, and stop when your hips and knees are fully extended.
Caution: Pay attention to your knees throughout the movement, making sure that they don’t collapse inward or shift outward.
Now that you have the 411 on squats, you’re on your way to a tight tush, toned legs, and better body mechanics. Stay tuned next week, when we’ll do the 411 on push-ups.
Angie Miller is the star and creator of the Bedroom Body™ Workout and other top selling exercise DVD’s. Passionate about fitness and education, Angie teaches at Northern Illinois University and is a Certification Specialist for the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). She is a freelance writer, group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and proud mom. Learn more about Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com