Back to basics: Finding the perfect squat
Versatile and efficient, squats are an essential exercise to have in your routine
With Christmas well and truly behind us, this is exactly the time to get focused on you and your health and well-being. Last week I discussed some of the important things you should set out before embarking on 2017 fitness plans. These included how much time you have to spend on training and food preparation and setting realistic goals.
Each month start with small goals which can be achieved.
Make available a minimum of 20 minutes a day for some exercise, whether that be walking home from work, getting to a fitness class or starting workouts at home.
Over the next four weeks we are going to bring you back to basics in order to get a great full body workout. Getting back to basics is about looking at form and how we exercise in order to develop plans that help us achieve our goals.
We will be starting this week with finding the perfect squat.
Next week we will be looking at the importance of core strength and how you can incorporate core exercises into your routine.
Week three is about targeting the upper body and focusing on problem areas like those dreaded bingo wings. And we will be finishing in the final week with how to put your exercises together to develop great, fast workouts for the new year that you can stick to and that will make a difference.
For now let us begin by finding the perfect squat for you.
The squat is one of the best compound movements that you can do for a lower body workout. Depending on your ability, they can be effective from bodyweight to weighted once your form is good.
As a general rule, squat back and down while keeping your back as straight as possible (some people have better flexibility than others, so don't worry if you lean over a little more). Ensure that your knees do not come beyond your toes, so as not to put too much strain through the knees (Hindu squats are the exception to this rule).
Prisoner squats work quads, hamstrings and glutes and also bring in upper body as you stand with your hands behind your head, like a prisoner being arrested.
Squat jumps introduce a bit of cardio into your strength training and are great fat burners. Close stance deep squats bring in your outer thigh and Hindu squats are a great full body exercise.
There is a squat out there for everybody - vary the width of your stance to find what works for you. The key thing to remember is form to allow the exercise to work effectively. so this week, take it slow and concentrate on getting the movement right.
Do each exercise 12 times before moving on to the next one. When you have completed each exercise, that is one set. Catch your breath before moving on to the next set, and do three to four sets, three to four times a week
Week 1: Squats
1/ Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and lock your fingers behind your head
2/ Bend at the hips and knees to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and then push back up to the starting position and repeat.
1/ Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your side.
2/ Squat down towards the ground, pushing your hips back and ensuring that your knees don't go beyond your shoe laces.
3/ Then jump up in the air and land back into squat position and repeat.
Close stance deep squats
1/ Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
2/ Squat back and down so your thigh is parallel to the floor. Drive through the heels back up to start position and repeat.
These more unusual squats are great for working on quads. Don't forget to control the movement downwards so as not to bounce at the end and create unnecessary pressure on the joints.
1/ Start by standing upright with your arms straight up in front at shoulder height.
2/ Lower your body towards the ground, keeping your back straight but coming on to your toes and lowering your hands down to the sides of the feet. Return to start position and repeat. Push your hips back and down and don't allow your back to lean forward.
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