The major muscles worked in the Squat are Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Gastrocnemius, and Soleus.

This exercise develops strength and endurance of the lower body.

Overview: With feet shoulder-width apart, point toes straight ahead. Contract abs. As you lower, inhale and keep looking straight ahead, chest stays lifted while you move your hip and tailbone back. Your back goes along for the ride.  Lower to no more than a 90° angle. On the return, exhale as you lift with the legs and buttocks. Keep heels on the ground.  If you are experiencing knee pain, lower the amount of weight you use or use none at all and increase the number of repetitions. See below for a more detailed explanation of this exercise.

Position: Feet are shoulder-width apart and toes point straight ahead. Some people prefer to point the toes slightly outward.  Take care to align your knees in the same direction as your toes. Hands are pronated and slightly wider than shoulder-width if you are using a barbell.  The barbell rests on the posterior deltoids.  Pelvis, neck, spine and scapulae (shoulder blades) are in neutral.  Contract abdominals.  Keep knees soft.

Movement: Inhale as you lower weight. Shift the hips and pelvis back, this keeps your knees back and prevents them from overshooting your toes.  The spine, neck, and scapulae are kept in a fixed position as you lower.  Keep the chest lifted, and head in line with the spine (eyes look forward). Lower until thighs are almost parallel to the floor or no lower than a 90° angle*. On the return movement, keep the heels down and lift with the legs and buttocks, exhale and extend knees and hip and bring pelvis back to the neutral position.

Common errors:
– Hyper-extended neck
– knees overshoot toes
– knees torque (fail to stay in line with toes)
– spine flexes forward
– improper hip hinge (tailbone should point back)
– heels lift off floor on return

* In the above diagram, the correct squat is shown with an angle deeper than ninety degrees. Lowering below 90° places stress on the knee-joint.  Although it is not an incorrect move, it is not generally recommended.

Opposing exercises: With squats, you are working both the quadriceps and hamstrings which oppose each other! This exercise is great for the abs as well!

Progression: (to name just a few) squat followed by heel raise, wall squat with raised leg, single-leg squat, plyometric squat (jump squat)

If you would like further progression advice, please leave a comment ….