How to Squat the Right Way
If you’re looking for a low-impact workout that still helps you break a sweat, squatting is one of your best bets. Squatting may seem self-explanatory, but those who are just getting used to exercise sometimes make mistakes that are easily preventable. Here are a few tips to help you perfect your squat.
Remember to stretch and warm up
According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, stretching before exercise reduces the risk of the dreaded muscle soreness many people experience when exercising for the first time. Because squats demand the most from your lower body, make sure to warm up with stretches that use your leg muscles.
Don’t use weights right away
If you are a beginner, Carla Coyle, a sports medicine-certified Crunch Fitness instructor, suggests that you hold off on using dumbbells and weights. This will allow you to focus on developing your form. She says that a common mistake among new clients is adding on heavy weights too quickly. Try doing squats with just your body weight at first, then introduce weights slowly. “Start out with a reasonable weight for your size and work your way up,” Coyle says.
Keep your head up and back straight
Whether you are sitting in a business meeting or behind your computer or squatting at the gym, it is always important to focus on your posture. Thinking about your posture also forces you to tighten your core and work your ab muscles as you squat. Coyle suggests squatting in front of a mirror so you can monitor your form.
Position yourself correctly and begin your squat
Although some nontraditional squats require different foot positioning, Coyle advises beginners to first master the original. To perform this squat, point your toes forward and keep your feet about hip width apart. Many first-timers make the mistake of squatting with their knees falling over their toes, though the correct form is to align your knees with your ankles. Another common misconception is that your form should vary based on your height and weight. “No matter how tall, short or big you are, your form should remain the same,” she says.
Don’t go too deep
Many assume that in order to get the most out of your squats, you should lower your body as close to the ground as you possibly can without falling over. But a deeper squat is not necessarily more effective. “Going just below your thighs being parallel with the ground will achieve great results,” Coyle says.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re a member of a gym, don’t be afraid to ask the trainers circulating the floor to help you out or check on your form. But even if you haven’t joined a gym, there are resources online that could help. “Search for a video of a credible fitness source to see how it’s done if you are unsure,” suggests Coyle. If you are more of a visual learner, it is a great idea to consult online content from fitness experts. Once you are comfortable with the basics, mix things up and transition into trendy workouts like barre and dance fitness.