How to Make Your Squat More Effective
By Genevieve Cunningham
For anyone trying to improve the lower half of their body, the squat is a staple exercise. Squats engage the legs and the glutes, and when done properly, they can provide both strength and an improvement in appearance. But in order to gain the most benefit from this move, you have to do it right. If you need to up your squat game, take a look at these tips for making it even more effective in your regular routine.
Squeeze at the Top
A squat isn't effective unless you squeeze at the top, which unfortunately, is something that most people completely forget. They focus on the downward motion, on the bend. But as important as the bending of the knees is, the top of the squat is just as important. When you bring your body back up and straighten your legs, take a couple of seconds to really squeeze the glutes. Squeeze hard, forcing these muscles to engage for a second. Then release, and slowly go down for your next squat. It might not seem like much, but this little focused intention can help take your squat to the next level.
Vary the Squat
Squats come in a wide variety. You have a typical squat, which is when the feet are shoulder-width apart. And then you have the sumo squat, which is when the feet are really wide. You can also try the goblet squat, which is when the feet are much closer together. Or you can pulse squat, add weights, or do a jump squat. The important part is to change it up! Keeping a little variety in your squat helps you work different muscles groups and also keeps the routine from getting stale.
Don't Use Your Back
When the legs get tired, we often allow the back to take over some of the strain. But if you're looking to build the bottom half of your body -- and also looking to reduce the strain on your lower back -- then you can't let this happen. Make sure that you're paying attention to form over everything else. Keep your back as straight as is comfortable, and make sure your legs are engaged instead of your lower back. This protects your back from pain and injury and also forces more of the work into the big muscles groups in the legs.
A squat is a great exercise for building stronger muscles and shaping your backside. But in order for it to be effective, you have to do it right. Use these tips to improve your basic squat, and you'll be enjoying a better, stronger base in no time at all.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in North Charleston, S.C.