How to do Squats According to Your Fitness Level
While some people think that squats are too difficult or painful, this exercise can be performed with modifications or intensifications depending on your fitness level.
Whether you are looking to start out an exercise regimen, or improve upon your regular workout, then squats should definitely be a part of your plan.
Doing squats offers numerous benefits for the body, and is considered one of the best exercises to counter the effects of prolonged sitting.
Squats can sometimes be associated with lifting weights or holding the posture for a long time, but there is more to squats than what meets the eye. While some people think that squats are too difficult or painful, this exercise can be performed with modifications or intensifications depending on your fitness level.
Squats as both primitive and fundamental
It has been said that the full squat is one of our natural resting positions as human beings. In this position, a person’s full body weight is on the feet while the buttocks rest on the back of the calves.
You may have observed how children are able to do squats with ease as they play their games or how they can rest in a carefree squat in between their playtime. Sometimes, they simply do this just to take a closer look at the world beneath their feet.
However, as our adult lifestyle changed throughout the years, doing squats became less natural and a little bit more difficult.
The benefits of doing squats
In a study published in March 2020, a team of researchers from the University of Southern California cited how kneeling and squatting are key factors in the cardiovascular health of the Hadza, a hunter-gatherer community in Tanzania.
By activating so many bones and joints at once, squats are a great exercise. In a squat, the hips, knees, feet, and ankles, are engaged. This way, the muscles in these areas (the quads, gluteals, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves) are given a workout. As such, squats can be a roadmap towards a stronger lower body, and this is crucial for continuous active movement.
How to squat
Ensuring the proper squat form will allow you to reap the full benefits of this exercise and keep you safe during your workout.
- Know the basics
The basic squat, also known as air squat or bodyweight squat uses one’s body weight as the source of resistance.
You can start with the feet positioned slightly wider than the hip as you shift back to a sitting position. Keep the chest up and engage your abdominals as you lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. If it does not reach, just go as low as your body allows you to go. Make sure your knees are not creeping beyond your toes. Take an exhale as you stand back up.
- Add more movement
If you feel no discomfort (especially on your hips, ankles, and knees) after having tried the basic squat, you can explore the jump squat.
With your feet slightly wider than your shoulder width, lower the hips down until your thighs are slightly higher than your knees. Try jumping up and gently land down with soft, bent knees. Settle back into your squat.
- Put in the weight
With the use of a dumbbell or a medicine ball, you can increase resistance and do overhead squats. You will be holding the weight above your head with the arms extended upwards for the duration of the exercise.
From standing tall, bend the knees and push the hips back to come to your squat. Similar to the basic squat, stop when your thighs are already parallel to the floor. Keep the knees over, but not beyond your toes.
You can also try back squats when a barbell is available. For safety purposes, make sure that you set your barbell in a squat rack that reaches below your shoulder.
Make sure to keep it safe
As with any exercise, it is important to monitor how your body feels. Keep the feet firmly planted and avoid the knees going inward as you do your squats. Make sure that you engage your core muscles and move slowly if you are just starting out. If you have certain health conditions, you should consult first with your doctor, or ask a certified personal trainer for advice on your fitness routine.