If Your Squats Don’t Follow These Steps, You’re Doing Them Wrong

Proper form is the key to get the most out of your workout.

Woman showing how to squat correctlyPhoto: Shutterstock

How to Squat Correctly

You may not realize it, but you squat almost every day. You may have done a squat when you went to grab something from the bottom drawer of your dresser or when you go to pick up your kid. But, doing a squat for the purpose of building muscle and control of your body is something that requires a little more thought. (These exercises can cut your risk of heart disease in half.)

Maurice Williams, owner of Move Well Fitness, says that doing a squat correctly depends on the make up of your body. “Things such as limb length, flexibility and past or current injuries can dictate how you squat,” says Williams. (This one mistake could be sabotaging your workout.)

The two muscles that you need to keep in mind when doing a squat are your calves and hips. Making sure that they are stretched and warmed up before you start doing squats is essential. “They are responsible for helping your butt muscles move in and out of the squat. If they are not flexible, your form could be on shaky ground, which could lead to injuries,” says Williams.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine outlines these steps to performing the ideal squat:

  • Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward, your back straight, and your head up with your eyes forward
  • Squeeze your glutes and push your shoulder blades towards your spine
  • Descend as though you are sitting in a chair, keeping the knees aligned over the second and/or third toes
  • Come back up keeping your glutes engaged and your eyes forward; repeat for as many reps as you want

If you are having trouble maintaining this body position as you squat, there are a few things you can do. Place a stability ball in between your back and a wall. Perform the squats while moving the ball up and down the wall to keep proper back placement. You could also try squatting onto an actual chair to make sure that your knees are tracking over your toes properly.

It’s important to know how to squat properly so that you not only get the most out of it, but also so that you don’t injure yourself. Now that you know how your body should look and where your muscles should be placed, try incorporating this technique into the squats you do in your everyday routine.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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