MUSCLES IT WORKS
Gluteals (Butt), Quadriceps (Front of Thighs), Hamstrings (Back of Thighs)
HOW TO DO IT
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold one dumbbell in each hand next to your sides, palms facing in. (You can also do this move with a body bar laid across your shoulders, hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.) Shifting your weight into your heels, inhale as you bend your knees and lower your hips down into a squat. Your hips should not go lower than your knees (about 90 degrees). Exhale as you straighten your legs, standing back up to the starting position.
SETS & REPS
Do 3 to 5 sets of 10 repetitions (reps).
Do 1 to 3 sets at 60 seconds per set.
WEIGHT OR RESISTANCE
8- to 15-lb dumbbells; 15- to 24-lb. body bar; or resistance band (green or red). Most men will start at the upper end of the weight or resistance range; most women will start at the lower end (less weight).
Dumbbells, body bar, or resistance band; stability ball (optional)
DON'T DO THIS MOVE IF
Modify this move if you have knee problems, or don't do it all if you have knee pain.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT
You should feel your gluteals (butt), quadriceps (front of thighs), and hamstrings (back of thighs) working during this exercise. To maintain correct form, keep your chest lifted, abs (stomach) engaged, tailbone tucked, and knees over your ankles throughout the squat. If you cannot keep your chest lifted while using the body bar, remove it from behind your head and try one of the modifications described below. It's also very important to keep your weight balanced in your heels to ensure that your knees do not go past your toes when you lower into the squat.
HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER
To make this exercise easier, try a stability ball squat, sitting squat, or squat with dumbbells.
The stability ball squat is a great way to master the squat form before progressing to other squat variations. To do a stability ball squat, place a stability ball (55 to 65 centimeters) between your middle back and a wall. (Add no additional weight to this move.) Leaning into the ball, lower your hips into a squat. (The ball will move along the wall with your movement.) Exhale as you straighten your legs back to the starting position.
To do a sitting squat, stand directly in front of a chair as if you were about to sit in it. As you lower into the squat, either tap your butt on the chair or sit in the chair before exhaling and straightening your legs back to the starting position. The sitting squat is a great way to learn how to correctly sit with your hips back when you squat.
HOW TO CHALLENGE YOURSELF OR PROGRESS
If you can do 2 additional repetitions per set or complete 60 seconds without getting tired, consider adding repetitions, time, and/or sets. For example, instead of doing 10 repetitions for 3 sets, try 15 repetitions for 3 sets. To increase intensity without changing sets or time, try adding weight. You can also try a plié squat or jumping squat for added challenge.
To do a plié squat, stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pivot on your heels, turning your toes out to about 45 to 60 degrees. Keeping your tailbone tucked and your chest lifted, lower down into the plié squat. Focus on opening your knees out toward your pinky toes to keep the knees open and in line with the hips throughout the squat. A common mistake when doing a plié squat is to let the knees drop inward. Like any of the other variations, your weight should be in your heels so that your knees stay directly above your ankles throughout the movement. During this exercise you will feel your inner thighs working as well as your gluteals (butt), quadriceps (front of thighs), and hamstrings (back of thighs).
To do a jumping squat, remove the body bar from behind your head, hold a lighter set of dumbbells in each hand, or use body weight only. Lower down into a regular squat as described above. Once you reach the bottom of the squat, push through your legs and jump. When landing back on the ground, immediately lower into the next repetition; do not land on the ground with your legs straight. Jumping squats should be performed at a fast pace and will raise your heart rate quickly while challenging your gluteals and legs.
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