Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Perfect Squat

Do you FEAR the Squat?
Squats are one of the most avoided exercises in the gym but truly beneficial. Why you ask? Squats help facilitate overall body strength, balance and functional independence. They are responsible for strengthening some of the largest muscle groups in the body (i.e., quadriceps, gluteals and hamstrings) which means we are talking about burning some serious calories. Squats also help with strengthening of the knees, back and mid section. Contrary to popular belief, squats can be beneficial to those with sore knees and backs if modified and performed properly.

The following are steps for a basic squat:
1.) Stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart. Make sure toes, knees and hips are in a straight line.
2.) Shoulders back and chest out.
3.) Pull your belly button into spine and keep your abdominals tight and contracted.
4.) Slowly lower yourself bending at the hips and knees so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Avoid letting your knees pass your toes. The movement should feel like sitting down on a chair.
5.) Keep the weight of your body in your heels while maintaining good posture. Head up, shoulders back and chest out.
6.) To return to starting position, you will want to stand up by pushing through the heels of your feet.
7.) At the top, try not to lock your knees. Keep them soft with a slight bend.
8.) People tend to hold their breath while performing this exercise so making sure to breathe is important. Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up.
9.) Repeat this movement 12-15 times for 1-3 sets.
10.) Remember to stay slow and controlled throughout the movement and avoid performing this exercise too fast. Maximize your rep by counting 1, 2 on the way up and 1, 2 on the way down.

Written by Crystal Kennedy
Wellness Director – Personal Trainer
Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

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