The squat is a compound, multi-joint movement that involves the major muscle groups of the lower body. It is considered by many health and fitness professionals one of the most important exercises for building a foundation of strength. However, the squat can become a contraindicated exercise when performed incorrectly. What this means is that it can do more harm than good without proper instruction and execution. Here are two common variations of the squat—one of the three exercises in our 30-day fitness challenge.
- Beginner: Traditional bodyweight squat
Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart and angled slightly outwards. Hold your arms out in front of you as a counterweight. Push your hips back before bending your knees and lowering towards the ground. Your thighs should be around parallel with the floor at the lowest point. Throughout the movement, lift your toes off the ground to keep the weight on your heels. Also, keep the knees wide to prevent them from “collapsing” inward between the feet. This will help protect your knee joints.
- Advanced: Jumping bodyweight squat
Set up as you would for the traditional bodyweight squat. The same technique applies as well, except extend your knees and raise out of the squat more explosively so that your feet come off the ground. Swing your arms overhead if need-be for momentum. This is the jump. Try to land softly and bend your knees on impact for a smooth transition into the next repetition.
A good rule-of-thumb is “hips, knees, and heels.” These are three specific areas of the body to be aware of when performing most squat exercises. Remember to push your hips back, also called the hip-hinge, before bending your knees. When bending and extending your knees, keep them wide to avoid “collapse.” Also, keep the weight on your heels. Weight transferring to the toes can place unwanted stress on the knee joints.
Combining the squat with the other exercises in our fitness challenge makes for a solid, full-body routine. Our carefully planned progression over the course of one month will help you achieve your fitness goals and raise the bar this New Year!
—Submitted by Frankie R., Lipscomb University