Photography by Kevin Horton
The squat is one of the most revered choices in the exercise catalog because of its uncanny ability to pack muscle onto your wheels.
In theory, it’s as primal as using a bone for a toothbrush — you drape a bar loaded with weight on your back, crouch down and explode up. Easier said than done. Executing the squat properly is anything but basic, so here, FLEX provides a step-by-step guide, plus tips. Get ready to fill out your pant legs!
10 STEPS TO A PERFECT SQUAT
- The bar should rest near your midtraps and rear delts (rather than your upper traps). This will make it easier to balance the weight throughout the exercise.
- Keep your head aligned with your spine by fixing your gaze on an object at eye level. This will help maintain balance.
- Grasping the bar with your thumbs wrapped around the bar, bring your hands as close to your shoulders as possible and press the bar against your back. Squeezing your shoulder blades together and pulling your elbows forward will help you support the bar.
- Place your feet just beyond shoulder width; this positioning may vary slightly depending on your flexibility and comfort.
- Maintain the arch in your lower back and push your chest up and out. Contract your spinal erector muscles and abdominals to keep your core tight.
- Keep a slight bend in your knees and contract your quads, hamstrings and glutes. Take a deep breath and hold it as you begin your descent. This will support the spine by increasing pressure inside the abdominal and chest cavities.
- Stick your glutes out as if sitting down in a chair. Descend until your upper legs are parallel to the floor.
Begin the ascent by driving through your heels. Imagine pushing the floor away as you thrust upward with your legs. Keep your heels on the floor to avoid leaning forward.
Concentrate on moving your hips before extending your knees. Keep your hips under the bar as much as possible to avoid leaning forward. This will relieve stress on your lower back.
As you ascend, force your knees out hard and push out on the sides of your shoes. This will help keep tension in your hips for greater strength.
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