Because most of us are still unable to attend go to a gym, I’m continuing a series of posts dedicated to exercises you can do at home.
Squats are some of the simplest and best exercises you can do for your lower body. Squats can essentially be completed anywhere, involve a very natural range of motion, and have the benefit of providing you with resistance training (building lean muscle), burning large amounts of calories because you are using large muscle groups (quads and glutes) and continue development of stabilizing muscles which allow us to maintain balance (critically important as we age).
Where to start:
Basic Squat: The Basic Squat is a great place to get started. Your goal is to complete 10-15 repetitions, 3 sets of repetitions, 3 times a week.
- Plant your feet about shoulder width apart.
- Bend your knees as if lowering yourself to the floor. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor
- Push back up to a standing position, focus your attention on how you are using your quadriceps and glutes through the range of motions.
TIP #1 – For stability, you may find it helpful to hold your arms together in front of your torso as you squat. For added motion and calorie burn, lift your arms in front of you as you squat down.
TIP #2– Weightlifters are taught to look up as they squat. This prevents the lifter from curving their back and causing injury. As you squat down, find a spot high on the wall and focus on that as you exercise. This will keep the pressure on your legs where it is needed, and prevent you from bending forward, straining your back.
TIP #3– Squatting past a position where your thighs are parallel to the floor can put too much pressure on your knees. So, don’t feel the need to squat all the floor.
Are you feeling like you want an additional challenge? Try some of these moves.
Curtsey Squat: Said to target the glutes, the curtsey squat adds a new layer of complexity as you now move your feet as opposed to the basic squat where you were planted.
- Stand with your feet at shoulder-width, like the basic squat.
- Step your right foot behind your left leg, and squat down, bringing your left thigh into a position parallel to the floor.
- Step back up to the starting position, and then do the same motion but with the other leg.
- Do at least 10 repetitions per leg and build from there.
Split Squat: I happen to like this exercise as for me it really works an inner quad muscle which then keeps my muscle development in balance.
- Start in a staggered position, arms on your sides
- Bend your front leg until the front leg is parallel to the floor.
- Keep your torso straight up
- Stand back up to the original position
- Complete 10 repetitions per leg
Tip #1- When these feels easy, grab some dumbbells and add some additional weight to your exercise.
Tip #2- While this motion is similar to a lunge, in this case, you will work one leg at a time before changing positions to the other leg.
Goblet Squat: Think of the basic squat, but now with added weight
- Plant your feet in a similar way to the basic squat.
- Hold a dumbbell to your chest, keeping your back straight
Tip #1- With the added weight, you may find yourself leaning forward. Keep your head and eyes up, and this will help keep your back straight. The goal is to put pressure on your legs, NOT your back.
Shout out and appreciation to the folks at Healthline for the gifs that were added to this post. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/how-many-squats-should-i-do-a-day#basic-squat
Feature Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels
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Now get out there, mix it up, and get a little sweaty because you are going to feel great after you do.