Why are squats Important?
Squats are the most functional movement in fitness. Think about it. A squat is just sitting down and standing up. Now think how many times a day you sit down and stand up. So it would make sense to train and work on squats in your fitness routine...especially as you get older. Have you seen older person struggle to get out of a chair?
Squats improve your flexibility, too. As you become older, your tendons, muscles, and ligaments become less elastic. Regularly doing squats can help slow down this process and limber you up.
They also lower your chances of injuring your knees and ankles. As you exercise, the movement strengthens your tendons, bones and ligaments around the leg muscles.
Squats also have many variations, from beginner to expert. So it is an exercise that literally anyone can do...and should!
So we know that squats are functional and essential to every day movements, but why is it good for you? When you are descending into a squat, or sitting down, you are working your quads. On the way up, you are working on extended your hip flexors and using your hamstrings and glutes. But most importantly, lets not forget about your core. To keep your body, and spine stable in the up and down movement, your core needs to brace your entire body.
Want to start adding squats to your workout? Here are a few cues to remember when squatting.
Hips go back first. Pretending like you are about to sit down in a chair and you are trying to find the seat with your butt, bend at the hips and reach that butt back!
Bend knees, but make sure your weight is shifting back and your knees are not WAY over your feet. A little bit is okay. This just means you have low mobility in your ankles and that is something you can work on.
Keep your chest up and look forward. When you bend your hips back, do not lean forward with your upper body. Keep your upper body as upright as possible.
To get out of the bottom position. Dig into your heals and press through your legs and stand straight up.
Not sure where to begin? There are many different various of squats to try and get confident with first. Below are some progressions from easy to hard.
Wall sit. Lean up against a wall and bend knees and hold for how ever long you can, trying to add more and more time each time you do these. Once you can hold a wall sit for a minute, go to next step. These are also great to add in if you already know how to squat and challenge your self to see how long you can hold a wall squat (With a 90 degree angle in the knees, no cheating!)
Squat to box. Squatting can be scary for people starting because of all the empty space behind you, and not knowing how far to go down and being worried about falling down. Start by squatting down to a box or bench and then standing up just using your legs, no arms. This is also a good way to see how far you have to actually squat down once the box is taken away.
Yoga Ball Sliding Squats. Place a small to medium size yoga ball between you and a wall. Placing the ball in your lower back. Now roll your back along the ball while descending into a squat and then using just your legs, press back up. Make sure to brace your core to stabilize your body so it only goes up and down on the ball and not side to side.
Bodyweight Squats. Practice your squat without any box behind you and no weights, make sure your form is good before adding any weight.
Add Weight. You are going to do a squat with Kettlebells or Dumbbells. Start light and work your way up. You can hold the weights to your side, on your shoulders or in front of you, doing a goblet squat.
Once you feel comfortable with squatting and adding weight, try using the barbell. you can also start out by squatting to a box to get familiar with how the weight feels on your back.
Now that you have mastered the back squat, you can try a front squat by placing the bar across your shoulders and squatting.
Follow along on our Instagram and YouTube channel for demonstrations of each of these squats and other variations.