Squats. Whether you’re picking up your toddler, grabbing groceries from the trunk of your car or droppin’ it like it’s hot (heyyy sexy!), squats are an essential movement pattern that we all do consistently. While most of us think that squats are just for the gym (groan), they’re essential to everyday mobility. Not impressed by my first examples? Think about when you sit down to eat at the dinner table. That motion? It’s a squat. And since we all want to be able to lift and lower ourselves comfortably for a long time, I’m dedicating this month’s fitness piece to doing squats with good form!
In case anyone needs a refresher, here’s a quickie on how to do a squat properly:
- Stand with feet parallel to one another, hip distance apart (pro tip: your hip distance is roughly about the width of two fists placed side by side)
- Bend your knees while lowering your booty as if you were going to sit down (remember our dinner table example).
- You arms can be in prayer position or just in front of you as you do this.
- When your thighs are parallel/slightly lower than parallel (or as low as you can go, if you’re a beginner), pause, and then drive through your heels to push yourself back up to start. Squeeze your glutes at the top for extra booty work!
It seems easy enough! And yet there are a lot of ways that squats can get funky, and not in a good way. To make sure you use proper form and, in doing so, engage the muscles you’re working to the best of your ability, be sure to keep an eye on the following body parts:
- Back: When you lower yourself down, keep your back straight and don’t look down. Your lower back will naturally curve a tiny bit at the end – that’s okay, but make sure your abs are braced and supporting your spine.
- Ankles: Keep your feet parallel! Sometimes tight muscles will cause one foot or both to want to pop out and turn outward. Keep them (and your toes), facing forward to reduce your risk of injury.
- Knees: As they bend, your knees should remain over your ankles. To do this, you need to think of your bum go back AND down, rather than just down. It can also help to imagine that there is a wall in front of you, preventing your knees from moving out of line with your ankles. Your knees should also remain parallel to one another, rather than dipping toward one another (knee valgus), or outward away from each other.
- If your knees are dipping inward, trying putting an object such as a yoga block, stuffed animal or even a small tissue box between them to keep them parallel.
More of a visual person? Check out this (admittedly random, but solid!!) how-to video on youtube: Basic Squat How-To
Ready to try them out yourself? Start with 10 reps, either 2 or 3 sets (so either 20 or 30 in total with a brief leg shake out break in between sets!), and work your way up to 12-15-20 and so on. Already a pro? Trying using medium dumbbells (3-6kg or 6-10lb weights, one in each hand), to add resistance.
Now that you have the basic squat, there are a lot of other variations you can try! What are some of your favorites? Are they any you’ve seen done but aren’t sure how to do and would like to see featured on here? Leave me a note in the comments and I’ll be happy to help!