How to Squat Effectively & With Proper Form

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If your time in the gym were limited, squats are the one back exercise and strength building lift you would want to concentrate on. This stretching exercise and lower back exercise actually strengthens the entire body. Combining stretching exercises with squats and other back exercises will sculpt your body into a well toned machine.

Squats work more of the body's muscles in one rep than does any other lift. Squats build muscle in the legs, knees, abs, upper back, and even the arms, all this on top of being a fantastic lower back exercise. Other than deadlifts no other lift has more muscle building benefit.

How to do squats

In order to fully benefit from squats without injury, you have to do each rep with correct technique.

Step 1: Do some thorough stretching exercises before starting
Step 2: Unrack the bar with the barbell squarely on your back between the shoulders and step back.
Step 3: Think about proper technique. The squat is an easy lift to do incorrectly. Make sure you keep your chest up, look forward, get a narrow grip on the bar with thumbs on top of the bar, keep your wrists straight and elbows back, have your feet shoulder width apart, and weight on heels. Review this step a few times.
Step 4: Squat down: Keep your hips back like you're sitting on a toilet and keep knees out and over your toes. Squat down so your knees are parallel.
Step 5: Stand back up. Keep your hips up, squeeze your glutes, keep knees out and don't let them buckle, and keep your weight on your heels. Squats are a back exercise so make sure it feels like you're doing a lower back exercise.

Before you start doing squats for real in your workout plans, make sure you're doing everything with correct technique. Start with just the barbell, no weight on either end. Have a gym buddy or professional judge your technique. If you need more guidance, don't be afraid to ask an experienced lifter or one of the gym professionals for help. Doing squats incorrectly will almost certainly result in injury.

Remember, squats are vital to your workout plans, but "parallel squats" aren't your only squatting options. Back exercise variations of squats are great muscle building opportunities as well as fantastic stretching exercises. These variations can be used by a hardgainer if squats are too difficult or you've suffered an injury.

Alternative Squat Excercises: The leg press and hack squat

The leg press is performed on a machine called a sled. The sled doesn't work as many muscles as regular squats do but is a safer and easier lift to learn. Use this when injured or otherwise unable to do regular squats.

Hack squats are similar to regular squats but is also done on the sled. Instead of placing a barbell on your back, you use a specially designed sled to perform a lift similar to squats. Ask a gym professional about these two lifts if you think you might need to use them in your workout programs.

Remember, master squats for the best muscle building results.

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