Yeah, she squats.
This saying makes me roll my eyes waaaay back in my head. Mostly because the accompanying pictures of greased up, gratuitous booty pics with heaps of hashtags annoy the hell out of me. #toomanybelfies. (A belfie is a selfie of your butt. My mom reads this blog, and I know she’ll ask. You’re welcome, mom.)
Don’t get me wrong, hearing about women wanting to strength train gets me excited, and occasionally a little teary eyed. And I can appreciate some junk in the trunk, know what I’m sayin’? In fact, after losing quite a bit of body fat I’ve noticed that I have also lost some mass in the a… well, you know where I’m going. Squats will continue to be part of my plan for getting some more booty muscle to power up my lifting program (and look great in jeans, natch).
Yeah, squats will help you build “dat ass”, along with an arsenal of other exercises. But more importantly, I want to talk to you about the other reasons that I have nearly all of my clients squat and why you may want to incorporate them too.
Then I’ll show you how you to squat. Let’s do this:
Why We Squat
Here is what happens when you squat: your entire lower half of your body comes to the party. Your hips, butt, and legs all work like crazy. Your core has to get fired up in order to provide you with the stability you need in order to perform the movement. Even your back and shoulders will be engaged and helping you out.
Squatting is what we call a “compound movement”, which just means that many things are working together at once. And the bonus of doing a movement like the squat is that you’ll not only be building some serious muscle, you’ll also crank up your heart rate and get your body burning some serious fat.
Working all those muscles can help you run faster, feel stronger, and move better for everything you do each day. Squatting is a fundamental movement pattern that we use all the time.
Also, squatting builds that badonkadonk that we were discussing earlier. Strong butts aren’t just nice to look at – they are responsible for keeping you moving well for life.
Making squats feel better:
Some clients come to me convinced that they won’t be able to get into a deep squat. Sure, there are some people with pre-existing injuries that may need to alter their movement a bit. And unless you’re competing in a powerlifting meet, you don’t have to worry about your depth hitting below parallel (that’s where your hip crease falls just below your knee at the bottom of the squat).
But most of us can get low.
Squat 101: 5 Tips for Learning to Squat
- Use the rope trick. Imagine that there’s a rope around your waist pulling you back as you sit down.
- Your chest stays up: I should be able to read your t-shirt if it said something on it.
- Look down at your feet for a moment – you’ll likely want to have your toes turned out a wee bit. Playing around with your foot position and width of your legs can take a bit of time but it’s worth it to try different positions: chances are, you’ll find one particular stance that makes squatting feel easiest.
- Use a tripod foot: we definitely want to stay off our toes as we squat, but overdoing it by leaning waaaay back on our heels can backfire. Instead, think about three points of contact on your foot: the balls of your feet near your big toe and “pinkie” toe as well as your heel. If all three of those points stay in contact with the ground, you’ll have optimal grounding of your feet.
- Your knees should track in line with your toes. They shouldn’t be caving inward, nor do you want them to push way outside of the path that your knee takes.Additionally, despite what you may have heard in the past, it’s okay if your knees travel in front of your toes a bit. It’s the excessive movement of knees in front of toes that can be problematic: this typically happens when people are resting too much of their weight in the front of their foot.
That’s pretty much it for basics– it’s in the details where we can make some big progress. But all in all, the squat isn’t terrible to learn. A good first place to start is with a box:
Squatting to a Box
I start nearly all of my clients squatting to a box. Using a box set to the lowest position that you feel like you can safely and effectively complete the movement will help you feel a little more at ease getting down into a low position. It also encourages you to sit BACK as you squat. This improves positioning, recruits the butt and hamstrings more, and makes our knees feel better.
Also, if you completely sit down on the box and come to a stop, you’ll gain another benefit of building your power in the bottom portion of the movement too.
Here’s a pic of me squatting to a box:
From there, the sky’s the limit: goblet squats, front squats, back squats, barbell squats… did you know that many variations of the squat actually exist?
Check a few other flavors:
To put it simply, squatting regularly and with tip-top form will do wonders for your own fitness goals, whether it’s to burn fat, get strong, or just move better for life. Want to see these tips in action? Check out my tutorial here:
Fitting Squats into Your Workouts
If you are looking for a beginner to intermediate program to make your squats more powerful, check out the Unapologetically Powerful from talented strength coaches Jennifer Blake and Jen Sinkler.
Jennifer and Jen are wonderful teachers who put the fun into lifting. They developed this comprehensive workout program to show you everything you know to get a strong, rocking body that looks and feels powerful. Get the program with in-depth coaching tutorials here.
Have more questions about the squat? Leave a comment below. I lovvvve talking about this move!