Squats: Right Form, Benefits and the Muscles They Work

What are squats? What do squats do?  (Image via Unsplash/Sushil Ghimire)
What are squats? What do squats do? (Image via Unsplash/Sushil Ghimire)

Squats are popular compound exercises across the demographics of fitness enthusiasts. On any given day, one can always find at least one person in the gym squatting. We're all familiar with the struggle to sit down and stand up the day after performing even three sets of these demolishers.

The squat comes with a whole array of variations to target different muscle groups. Here, we will take a closer look at what are squats good for.

How to do squats:

 Learn how to do squats. (Image via Freepik)
Learn how to do squats. (Image via Freepik)

• Stand straight with your feet hip-distance apart and your shoulders tall. Ensure your back is straight.

• Making sure your feet are firm on the ground, push your hips back and lower them down by bending at your knees and hips. Keep your back straight and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Inhale as you do this.

• As you exhale, push yourself up by straightening your legs to return to the starting position.

• Repeat the movement for 12 to 15 reps.

Yep, they’re that simple. Almost anyone can do it. However, it is important to watch your posture and control breathing while exercising to ensure you get the most out of them.

Proper form and tips:

Proper form and tips of doing squats. (Image via Freepik)
Proper form and tips of doing squats. (Image via Freepik)

It’s always going to be quality over quantity, so if you want to start lifting heavy or performing more reps, you have to go back to the basics.

Ditch the weights and preferably stand in front of a mirror. Follow these tips to avoid injury while performing squats:

• Keep your posture upright

While squatting, it is vital to keep your core engaged. This ensures your back doesn’t cave in or your shoulders don’t droop. Keep your gaze steady ahead of you. If performing the movement suddenly seems harder, it’s likely your posture wasn’t right while performing them earlier.

• Increase your range of motion

Try to lower yourself deeper towards the ground, beyond the parallel line mark your thighs have to reach. This will improve flexibility and condition you to push more.

• Take note of breathing patterns

Remember to inhale as you lower yourself and exhale as you stand back up. The right respiratory patterns allow for adequate energy produced before each rep.

• Perform reps with bodyweight

Once you’re comfortable with these techniques, perform three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps without weight. This will ensure your form does not break once you’re carrying weights.

When you’re able to perform bodyweight reps in perfect form with the pointers above, you can progress to picking up weights. You’ll find it easier to perform. But bear in mind to progressively increase the weight and not attempt to resume heavy lifting immediately.

Benefits of Squats:

What are the benefits of squats? (Image via Freepik)
What are the benefits of squats? (Image via Freepik)

Squats are compound exercises that engages multiple large muscle groups of the leg, namely:

• Glutes (buttocks)

• Quads (front of the thigh)

• Hamstrings (back of the thigh)

• Adductors (inner thighs)

• Hip flexors

• Calves

Apart from engaging the legs, the squat also calls for engaging the core.

When performed correctly, squats can provide numerous benefits.

• Strengthens the lower body

Having a strong lower body allows for ease of movement in everyday life. Squats strengthen not just the legs but also the core. This in turn helps improve posture and balance, eliminating lower back pain and discomfort.

• Burns fat

Given that it is a strenuous move, performing it for certain reps burn calories and builds muscle, resulting in fat being burned while the lower body starts to take shape.

• Improves lower body flexibility

When you ensure that post-workout cooldown exercises are being followed, this exercise can help improve the flexibility of the lower body (legs and hip flexors) while increasing the range of motion in the joints.

All-in-all, squats are a great exercise and can be performed by anybody. Incorporate them into your routine two to three times a week and you should be seeing great improvements in your overall strength and performance. Never neglect post-workout nutrition and recovery, and remember that lifting heavily is a progressive journey.

Poll : Do you perform squats regularly?

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Edited by Diptanil