Scared of Squats? Finally Conquer Your Form and Fear With This Step-By-Step Squat Guide
Does the thought of performing a squat make you weak in the knees? If you are scared of squats, you’re not alone. This simple hip-hinge movement conjures up a lot of concern among active adults, and for this reason, has become a polarizing exercise. You either love them, or avoid them entirely.
Before picking a side, it’s important to understand that whether you like squats or not, you do them daily. Every time you bend down to pick up an object or stand from a seated position, you are squatting. Mastering this move is essential in avoiding a lot of the aches and pains associated with bad bending form.
Unless you have suffered from a knee joint injury, squats should be a mandatory movement in everyone’s exercise routine. When done properly, squats are actually healthy for the knee joint and work to improve balance, stability, flexibility and burn some serious calories in the process.
Squats require skill. Practice safe squatting form by following this simple step-by-step guide:
The Assisted Chair Squat
The first step to learning the mechanics of a squat is to use a chair for support. Squats mimic the motion of sitting and standing. When we sit down, many of us make the mistake of bending forward at the knees, rather than hinging back at the hips. The best way to avoid injuring your knees is to keep your body weight in your heels, not in the balls of your feet or toes.
Here’s how to do an assisted chair squat:
Sit on a the edge of a sturdy chair with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and your arms extended out in front of your body. It is important that your knees are aligned directly above your heels and your shoulders are stacked above your hips.
Keep your core muscles tight and push through your heels to elevate your body into a standing position.
With your gaze forward and chest up, hinge back at the hips as if your bum is reaching for the surface of the seat. Sit down. Repeat 25 times.
The Assisted Chair/Hover Squat
Once you feel comfortable in your assisted chair squat, challenge your lower body by moving from a sitting to a hovering position. This will require your legs to work harder to balance your body. The reward from this isometric exercise is stronger legs, glutes and core muscles.
Begin by sitting at the edge of your seat. Practice the same proper squatting form as the exercise above.
Push through your heels and elevate your bum slightly from the chair. Hold this stance for 10 seconds, keeping all of your body weight in the heels. Once you hit 10 seconds, slowly lower your body back to a seated position. Repeat 20 times.
The Unassisted Squat
If you’ve made it to this point, congratulations! This is a huge step in your squat progress - you have finally accomplished proper form. Since you are a squatting superstar now, it makes sense to move away from using the chair as an aid. However, if you don’t feel comfortable squatting without a seat, that’s perfectly fine, too. A seated squat and a standard squat both provide your body with amble benefits.
If you are ready to give an unassisted, standard squat a try, here’s how it works:
Always invision a chair behind you. It helps the brain connect the movement of squatting and sitting.
Stand tall with your gaze forward, shoulders back and feet slightly wider than hip width apart.
Hinge back at the hips to lower your body until it is about parallel to the ground. For beginners, it’s okay to be a little higher than a 90 degree knee bend. For more advanced squatters, aim for a little deeper of a bend. Hold for two counts then push through your heels to return to the starting position. Repeat 10-12 times.
Overcome your fear of squats by copping one.
This article was originally featured on philly.com