Oh squats. Leg burning, booty growing, strength building squats. They’re the foundation of every legs day and we can’t get enough of them. Stick with us and we’ll teach you everything you need to know about how to do squats.
This movement holds a very special place in our hearts. They help give us the sexy, athletic curves we’re working towards, they make us stronger and they work a huge range of muscles. From booty goals, to toned legs, mad strength to boosted muscle mass, we have so much to thank them for.
You might have been squatting from day one, or you might be a little intimidated to head to the bar. Either way girl, we’re here to give you all the hottest tips and direction to help you up your load, or even start your love affair with the weighted squat.
The Benefits of Squats
Where to start? There are so many benefits to squats for women, but to make it simpler for you, we’ve picked out our favorites.
When we get down to basics, the squat is one of the key compound movements you should be working on the regular. Compound means it pulls in a variety of muscle groups, working all those big muscles in unison to create a strong, well-balanced physique. If you’re encouraging your muscles to work together effectively, you’ll strengthen the coordination and power of your body.
By using weighted, challenging squats as the cornerstone of your leg workout, you’re really putting that muscle to work. What’s more, when you’ve got the form nailed, you can start adding weight and building all round lower body strength.
Because you’re working more muscle groups, you’ll be burning more calories than an isolated exercise. What’s more, extra muscle means your body will need more cals to function on a day-to-day basis, so you’ll be better off in the long run.
Working compound movements like the squat uses more muscle than isolated movements. With more muscle tissue firing, your heart will have to work harder to get oxygen to these parts of your body. From this, your heart will grow stronger and more efficient.
With squats in your routine, you’ll not only feel stronger, you’ll look better too. Your legs will be tighter and more toned, your butt will be perkier, and you’ll feel more confident overall.
How do squats work?
Let’s get down to the science ladies.
As we’ve mentioned, squats are a compound movement and that means you use more muscle with every exercise. With every weighted back squat, you’ll be working:
- Spinal erectors
- Latissimus dorsi
- Abdominal muscles
- Scapular muscles
We’re talking about a huge range of muscles here, girl. While most of the emphasis will be on your quads, hamstrings and glutes, you’re still hitting plenty of other areas too.
A squat is just about one of the most functional movements you can do. Even as teeny tiny toddlers, we were squatting left, right and centre. As soon as our ancient ancestors took their first steps, they were squatting up a storm. Even if you don’t go to the gym, sitting down and standing up again is a variation of the humble squat.
What we’re saying girls, is that we were designed to squat, so learning how to do it properly is a pretty big deal. Luckily, we’re here to help.
How to do squats
You know squats are definitely a good idea to include in your workout routine, the next step is perfecting your form for a killer workout. We’ll teach you everything you need to know to get it nailed down. Before you know it, you’ll be ass to grass with the best of them.
First off, we’ll teach you a bodyweight squat. Get that form looking good and it’s time to head to the bar. First though…
How to bodyweight squat:
Before you begin, here are a few notes you should think about as you do your squat. It might seem like a lot to think about, but it will all start to feel natural pretty soon:
- Keep your weight on your heels throughout the movement. This is important to get right now, as when you add load, you could spill the bar if your body is leaning forward
- Pick a spot high up on the wall and keep your eyes on it. This should help to keep your chest high while you squat
- Don’t let your knees track over your toes. You’ll load at the knees rather than through your glutes, which could leave you with injuries. No thanks
- Maintain a strong lumbar curve. It’s key to get this now, as it can become more challenging to keep your back strong when you add load
- Don’t let your knees drop in. Think about pushing them outwards as you stand up from the bottom of your squat
With these in mind, follow these steps for a squat:
- Stand with your feet at shoulder width apart
- Twist your toes out slightly so they’re pointing out around 30 degrees
- Begin your squat by breaking at the knees
- Keeping your chest high, bend at your hips and push them backwards and down
- Stop when your hip crease is in line with your knees
- Firing through your glutes and quads, stand up completely
How to do a weighted squat:
Now you’ve got the bodyweight squat and you’re feeling strong, it’s time to add some load to the movement. Again, we recommend you start light before you go straight for the big weights. Walk before you run girl.
If you’re feeling a little worried about heading to the bar for the first time, set up the spotter bar or ask your gym girl to spot you. Remember to bear in mind those points you learned for your body weight squat. Tip top form is even more important now you have a weight involved.
- Grip the bar outside of shoulder-width and duck underneath it so it’s resting across the back of your shoulders
- Using a lunge movement, push it up and step out of the rack, still holding the bar with your hands
- Stand with your feet in your squat position
- Keeping your chest high, your back strong and your weight on your heels, move your hips down and back
- When your hip crease is aligned with your knee, push back up, keeping your knees out and your chest high
That’s it girl, once you’ve got that nailed you’re on track for some serious leg gains. When the light bar starts to feel too easy, add a little weight in small increments. That way you can find a weight that challenges you and you can start building some muscle and boosting your strength.
Variations on the squat
Once you’ve mastered how to do squats, you’ll start to feel stronger and better than ever in the gym. After that, it’s simply a matter of pushing your body out of its comfort zone again and trying out these squat variations.
This wide legged squat is the perfect way to switch the heat to your glutes. Sure, it’s still a compound movement that will be lighting up the muscle throughout your legs, but the focus will really be on your butt. Here’s how to do it:
- Take a dumbbell and hold it in both hands in front of you
- Stand with your feet at shoulder width apart and step one foot out slightly further
- Push your hips down and back. Be sure you don’t roll your feet in or allow your knees to cave inwards
- Stand back up again
This is very similar to your back squat. However, rather than holding the bar across the back of your shoulders, hold it on the front. Sounds simple, but when it gets down to a muscular level, it’ll target your legs in a different way. Although it pulls the same groups into action, the focus is more on your quads – perfect if you’re looking for that gorgeous quad swoop.
- Grip the bar just at just inside shoulder width apart
- Step into the bar and bend your elbows, bringing them under it until they’re pointing directly forward. The bar should be resting on your shoulders and your hands should be holding it in place
- From there, push the bar up and step out of the rack
- Keep your elbows as high as possible and your weight on your heels as you push your hips back and down
- Stop when your hip crease and your knees align and stand up again, firing through your quads and glutes
Tip: It’s more important than ever that you keep your chest up and the weight on your heels for a front squat. Having the bar on your front could make you tip forward if your form isn’t perfect.
Single Leg Squat
This movement is worth saving for when you’ve got some serious strength in your legs. Usually the bench mark for being able to achieve this is when you can safely squat your bodyweight on a barbell. No doubt it’s a tough one, and we’ve put it in this guide as something to work towards.
- Stand with one foot in front of you and the other directly under your body. You’ll be squatting on the back leg.
- To help your balance, hold your arms out in front of you and raise your front leg off the floor
- Slowly, begin to squat down, making sure your knee doesn’t track over your toes
- Pause at the bottom of the squat, before pushing up through your heel
Tip: If you’ve got about ten reps on each leg, add some weight by holding a kettlebell or dumbbell to your chest as you perform the movement.
There you have it girl, that’s everything you need to know about how to do squats. Now it’s just a matter of including them in your workout routine and growing some strength and muscle in all the right places.
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