Squats are one of the most effective exercises to strengthen and tone your thighs and shape your buttocks. To promote this toning and shaping safely, it is important to perform your squats correctly. Here are some basic guidelines on how to squat correctly in order to achieve the best results while avoiding injury.
1. Proper squat technique begins with a strong and steady stance.
Your feet should be shoulder width apart or slightly wider. Widening your stance can improve your stability and will improve the training effect on your the glutes and hamstrings.
2. Squat with only your bodyweight.
Once you become proficient and proper squatting becomes second nature, only then advance to weighted squats. Squats with a dumbbell in each hand are a good first step toward barbell squats.
3. Avoid placing the barbell on your spine.
Once you advance to barbell squats, practice and then warm up with only an empty barbell. Ensure that the bar is supported by your shoulders, back and hands and not your spine. As you steady the bar with your hands keep your wrists in line with your forearms.
4. Your feet and toes should be pointed outward for stability.
This positioning will also help your knees bend outwards in the direction of your toes. It is important to prevent your knees from bowing inward as you squat. If you maintain a good stance but your knees continue to buckle inward reduce the weight you are using to prevent this.
5. Take a deep breath as you squat and tighten your core and abs.
Breathe deeply and squeeze your abs as you lower your body and exhale as you go back up. As you move upward, focus on your hips and do not rise using your chest or back.
6. Keep your head up and eyes forward.
Looking down at your feet or up at the ceiling places additional stress on your spine. This potential injury increases as your weight increases.
7. Pull your shoulders back and raise your chest as you squat.
These two steps will properly align your spine and provide a very slight arch to your lumbar spine. Do not lean forward or round your back as it increases pressure on your vertebrae.
Follow the steps outlined here to perform correct squat techniques and reduce your risk of squat related injuries. Your squat training will also benefit from hip and shoulder flexibility training and stretching.
As you progress in your squat training consider adding variations of squat techniques like lunge squats, and hack squats. Squatting can be difficult, but by following the proper technique, squats can pay off nicely with strength, lean shapely thighs and buttocks.