Question: What exercise works your major muscle groups as well as your cardiovascular system, burns major calories, increases your heart and lung capacity, creates an overall anabolic environment in the body that maximizes gains from other exercises, and boosts your body's natural production of growth hormone and testosterone?
If you guessed squats, you are on the money! In a world full of fancy gym equipment and fitness fads, the squat should not be overlooked. Functional training? What exercise could be more functional; your legs support and transport the rest of your body. Core training? Your abs and lower back receive a full workout from squats.
So why aren't squats the most popular exercise in the gym? One reason is that they are tough; but wouldn't you rather do something that's tough and guarantees results?? Another is that people are unsure about proper form. So here are some tips:
Squat Setup. You'll have to think about a lot of things at first. Study the tips below, start with an empty barbell and focus on your technique.
Chest Up. Keeping your chest up makes lower back rounding impossible & tightening of your upper back easier.
Forward Look. Look down & your back will bend. Look at the ceiling & your neck will hurt. Look forward.
Bar Position. Put the bar low, on the muscles of your back shoulders, below the bone at the top of your shoulder blades.
Grip Width. A narrow grip makes it easier to tighten your upper back.
Thumbless Grip. Put your thumbs on top of the bar, next to your fingers. You'll be able to keep your wrists inline with your forearms.
Straight Wrists. Your back supports the weight, not your hands. Keep your wrists in line with your forearm, never bend them.
Tight Upper-back. Bring your shoulder blades together. Tightening the upper back gives the bar a solid base to rest on.
Elbows Back. Don't let them come forward during the squat. Pushing your elbows back prevents elbow injuries.
Foot Stance. A narrow stance doesn't work for the low bar squat. Heels should be shoulder-width apart.
Toes Out. Point your toes out at about 30 degrees. Your toes must always follow your knees.
Weight on The Heels. Curl your toes up if needed. Never get on your toes. Push from the heels.
Squatting Down. You have unracked the bar correctly. All muscles are tight & ready to squat. The hips are key to the low bar squat.
Hips Back. Think sitting on your toilet. Hips go back first, way back. If you can't, you probably have tight hamstrings. Do the squat stretch.
Knees Over Toes. Don't let your knees travel forward in the bottom squat position. Knees over the toes, not further.
Knees Out. Never allow your knees to buckle in. It can cause knee injury. Push your knees out.
Hit Parallel. Your hip joint must come lower than your knee joint. Ask someone to judge your depth or tape yourself. No partial squats.
Squatting Up. Your hip muscles are stretched when you hit parallel. Use that stretch to bounce from the bottom. DO NOT relax your hip muscles & DO NOT bounce off your knees. Keep your hip muscles tensed.
Hips Up. If your hips come forward, your knees will also come forward. Drive your hips up straight out of the bottom.
Squeeze Your Glutes. Power comes from the glutes. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can while driving your hips up.
Push From The Heels. Curl your toes up if needed. Don't let your heels come off the floor. Push from the heels.
Knees Out. Same as for the way down: don't let your knees buckle in. Push your knees out.
Add this exercise to your arsenal and you can't go wrong! Shoot for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up. Do not lock knees at the top, this ensures continuous tension on the muscle while keeping stress off of your joints.
VIDEO: Mark Jenkins Squatting
Click the link to see me squatting! Please keep in mind I have been doing this for a minute!
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