Love them or loathe them, squats are one of the most effective exercises you can do for your lower body. They work your quads (aka, your thighs) primarily, though your glutes (or butt muscles) also get fired up. And, it's important that you do them just right to maximize effectiveness and prevent injury.
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How to Do Squats
Here's a primer on how exactly to do the perfect squat.
- Stand facing forward with your chest up.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also hold your hands at chest level or place them behind your head.
- Bend at your knees and hips, sticking your butt out like you're sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your chest lifted and your spine neutral, and do not let your lower back round.
- Squat down as low as you can, keeping your head and chest lifted. Keep your knees over your ankles and press your weight back into your heels.
- Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position. This is one rep.
Start with three sets of 10 squats, and then add more reps (12, 15) as you get used to the motion. Focus on your form, and then worry about progressing. When you're ready, here are some weighted variations you can try.