Squats are one of the best exercises you can do for overall good health and strength training. Few other exercise work as many muscle groups and provide such a good, full-body workout.
Each squat physically activates each of your leg muscles, including your Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings and Quadriceps. Your upper-back and arm muscles are engaged in holding the bar steady on your back. Your abs and lower-back are engaged keeping your body stable and balanced throughout the exercise.
However, squats can be a dangerous exercise if not done with the proper form. The instructions below will help you achieve proper form for your squats.
Through the entire move:
Make sure you always face forward with your chin slightly raised. Keep your hands close to your shoulders with your elbows pointing down towards the floor. Your feet should always be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Engage your core and lower back muscles throughout the exercise making sure to keep them tight. Your spine should be neutral and your lower back should be slightly arched to make sure you maintain proper form. Take care not to lean backwards, but keep your weight over your heel—it will help you stay balanced.
At the Top
Put the bar on your upper-back and raise your chest up, assuming the proper form described above. Position your feet under the bar and un-rack it by standing up, push through the hips down to the heels. Step slightly back away from the rack and lock your knees.
Squat down, keeping your lower back neutral and your knees in line with your toes.
At the Bottom
Continue to descend until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Push knees outward on the way down but don’t allow them to go past your toes. Your glutes should be pushed back. The motion should feel like you’re sitting down in a chair, not going straight down.
Descend until your thighs are parallel with the ground, then reverse direction and slowly squat back up, keeping your chest our and your back neutral. Lock your hips and knees when you get back to the top then start over again.
Start your squats with just the bar and practice your form. When you have the proper form down, slowly increase your weight and pay attention to how your body reacts.