I’m often asked what is the one exercise move everyone should do and the answer is the squat. The problem is, so many people do the move with bad technique, so here’s my guide on how to squat properly.
In my opinion, the squat is the one exercise move every one – irrespective of age and ability should do. Alongside the lunge, push, pull, twist, bend and gait (walk/run), it’s one of the prime functional fitness moves.
What are functional fitness moves? The ones that help us live our every day lives and perform regular tasks. To try and explain them better, I always say: “think about getting into a car with a hand bag or a bag of shopping.
You open the car (pull), you lean over (bend) and twist to put your bag on the passenger seat (push), you lunge with one leg to get in and you squat to sit down… That’s six of those moves in one simple task!
So why is the squat so important? Because, it primarily works your quads – those four long muscles that run down the front of your leg. Exercise professionals call them your ‘independence muscles’ – lose use of them and you lose your independence as you won’t be able to get out of a seat.
Other muscles also hit in a squat are your calves, glutes (bum), hamstrings (muscles on the back of your thigs) and your core (mainly lower back), you it gets lots of things firing at the same time.
Depending on whether you use body weight or free weights, it also strengthens or builds some of the biggest muscles in your body – and as muscle is more metabolically active than fat, it means your body will burn calories more effectively.
What’s not to like?
Here’s how to get a basic squat right
Stand with your feet hip width apart, with your feet tracking straight in front you .
Sit back, keeping your back straight and your head up.
Bend primarily at the knees with the weight on your heels.
Go as far as you can, as you get better, you can go further (and then add weights if you wish).
Make sure your knees do not track over your toes as this will leave you unbalanced and you could fall or injure yourself.
Push through your heels and explode back into a standing position.
Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions, 3-5 times a week.