Squatting is one of the hardest (if done properly), but most effective exercises out there. It's considered a compound movement, because you engage your full body whilst performing the movement. Squats help you build muscle in your back (especially lower back), core, quads, calves and especially your buttocks. Let's be honest - our back is the only reason we would perform such exhausting exercise. However, since you involve all those muscles, there is a great potential to hurt yourself, and that is why I want to take the time to explain how to perform a Squat in a safe and effective way.
First a little disclaimer - everyone does squats differently, and swears by their method. If you found a method that works for you, feel free to stick to it. What I am going to show you has worked for me, and even though (unfortunately) my bum is not huge, I am the proud owner of a tiny gap (yes, THE GAP) and a cute little bubble butt.
Secondly, to all the girls out there - take a risk, and put on some weight. Not on your hips, but on your shoulders. Doing weighted exercises is so much more effective than body weight (if you want to lose fat and tone up that is), and those 5 pounds on your shoulders won't make a difference. Get one of your guy friends to show you around the weight room and help get the form right. Think about it that way: Your legs carry your body weight around all day - they can squat more than 10 pounds! Obviously you have to get your weights up in small steps - don't dive in head first - but give it a try and see how you go. I started out with the bar (20kg) and am now squatting my body weight (60kg). It's worth it!
Now let's get started. I will put up a couple of photos (please excuse the terrible quality - those guys at the gym really weren't born to be photographers) and point out the important bits.
1. You start up standing straight with the weight on your shoulders (if this is your first time, you obviously would start without weights to get the form right)
2. Slowly squat down until you reach a 90° angle, keeping your back straight. Make sure you shift your weight onto your heels. Squat backwards, so that your knees do NOT move above your big toe. It's like sitting down onto a sofa. Once again KEEP YOUR BACK STRAIGHT. This is the most important part, as your lower back is most likely to be the weakest link, and thus the body part that gets hurt the easiest.
3. After you squatted down and thought of all those details I provided you with, you push up, using your glutes and your quads, KEEPING YOUR BACK STRAIGHT, and come up right back into the standing position that is shown in the first photo.
Depending on the weight, I usually do 3 sets, 12 reps. I will tell you more about the science of sets and reps in a later post. If you are looking to get help with an exercise plan that also includes great resistance training such as squats, Register free at ProFitnessPlans.com.
For now I want you to get those butts moving and practice those squats.
Ass to Grass, everyone!