How does it feel when you pick up a small child and get that great hug? Do you squat down to their level or do you find that it’s difficult? How about petting the dog? I love giving belly rubs to my two golden retrievers and they love the attention. These are the things that bring us so much joy and that’s one of the reasons why we exercise.
What muscles do squats work?
Let’s take the example of small child. Squatting down to pick them up is important versus bending over and hurting your back. Squats works your quadricep, hamstring and glute muscles as well as engaging your core. These are important muscles that allows you to get those hugs. Who does not need hugs these day or belly rubs?
When you do squats as part of a fitness class, working out in the gym or even around the house or outside, there are a few key points to remember to do the squat correctly and avoid injury.
The Chair Squat
This type of squat is done with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes forward. Other type of squats (like a sumo squat) will have your feet out wider and toes pointing more lateral.
1. Initiate the movement from your hips. Think of backing into a chair to sit down, bum first!
2. Knees should be behind your feet and chest up nice and proud (take a quick peek to make sure you can see your toes), engage your core/pull in your tummy. Think of an old fashioned corset.
3. Bend at the hips and knees while keeping your heels and toes on the floor (sometimes easier said than done).
4. Slowly go into the squat position (chest is still proud), be sure the knees do not go past your toes.
5. Slowly stand, use your feet and push through your heels to a stand. You should feel your glutes activating, if not squeeze them. Put your hand on that glute (no one is watching) and see that it’s engaged.
Squat “snacks” you can do daily
I love chair squats, I like to practice “the hover” whenever I go to sit in a chair. You can get a lot of squats done if you practice this quick hover during the day. You can find this and more in my FREE handout Better Balance and Strength in Less than 5 minutes.
Maximal (or gluteal maximus) results
1. Stand in front of the chair with either your arms out straight or crossed on your chest.
2. Bend at the hips and slowly begin to sit down and touch your bum to the chair lightly. I like to spend a few seconds in a hover before sitting (extra credit!). Just don’t plop down into the chair please.
3. Stand up using your feet (no hands please) and pushing through your heels.
Imagine how much glute activation you can accomplish if you do this every time you sit.
Want extra credit?
If you are reading this you are probably already an overachiever and want extra credit – Add a little weight!
You can add weights/dumbbells to the squat by either holding them at your chest, down at your side or racked on your shoulders.
Want more? If you are really feeling the squat love you can take the weight that is on your shoulders and do an overhead press once you have returned to standing. Just think of the bonus exercise you just got!
Now imagine lifting that 20 lb. bag of dog food, or 30 lb. child. It even makes digging your laundry out of a front-end loading wash machine easier. Give it a try
Want the free guide?
Go to my Free Resources page or click HERE to download your FREE Better Balance and Strength in Less Than Five Minutes a Day.
What’s stopping you from doing this the next time you sit down? Don’t just plop into that chair, sit with mindfulness.
If you want to hear more about how I teach my fitness classes, I am doing a session at the National Council on Aging 2021 Age+Action Conference in June. The session is titled Relating exercise to activities of daily living in older adults: A novel way to teach fitness classes
Want to get started and take classes to improve your fitness level. Why wait!
You can go to my Classes & Coaching Tab to take a look at my classes and maybe join the Defy Gravity Group with LubbDubb. I’d love to see you, or you can choose from a host of other classes.