Squats. Do you love them? Do you hate them? Or do you love to hate them? Before you answer, RISE Fitness is breaking down the many benefits of squats, as well as providing tips on proper form with our very own rockstar instructor Carin Fanter. Carin – who has always been passionate about health and fitness as a former gymnast, runner and triathlete – is not shy about her love for squats, which she incorporates into every single workout.
Squats, Carin explains, “are a foundational move used in everyday life, and engage your quads, glutes, hips and core.” By engaging in this total lower body workout, those who embrace squats will see results in these areas of the body. Furthermore, squats deliver a big calorie burn and help build muscle, which in turn increases metabolism.
According to LiveStrong, “Squatting … incorporates elements of resistance training because you're lifting your own body weight. Since the glutei maximi, or the buttock muscles, are the largest muscles in the body, increasing your butt muscles' size has a greater influence on your metabolism than any other muscle.”1
In addition to toning, burning calories, and improving metabolism, squats are ideal because they are versatile and can be performed anywhere. But in order to get the above-mentioned benefits, proper form must be maintained.
When setting up to squat, Carin advises that you think about your body positioning. Keep your toes and hips square as you sit back into your squat, which will help evenly distribute the load. Also, be mindful of engaging your core, keeping your bodyweight in your heels (your toes should be able to move), and ensuring your shoulders and chest are up. Upon standing, squeeze the glutes before re-engaging and squatting again.
The importance of proper squat form can be overstated. When you lose proper form, you risk injury to your knees and lower back and miss the many benefits of this exercise.
TYPES OF SQUATS
While a bodyweight squat delivers results, there are many variations that up the calorie burn and further challenge your body. The skier squat requires that your knees stay close together as you engage, which fires up the glutes, while the summo squat – in which the legs are widened one heel-toe past your hips – targets the inner thighs. A wall squat challenges you to stay in perfect square form.
Jumping squats are another calorie blaster, as are squat pulses to further burn out and fatigue the targeted muscles. Any squat can be done using weights that are either pressed out while in a squat or pressed overhead when squeezing the glutes to a standing position, for those who want more challenge in this move.
Carin firmly believes in the power of exercise for both physical and mental health. “Movement is important every single day,” she states, adding that mixing up your workout routine will help you avoid falling into a workout rut. “Mix up your exercise routine,” Carin says, and listen to your body. “While strength and cardio are essential, so is stretching… so take the time to do it,” she asserts, adding, “Yes, you can!”
1. LiveStrong. The Effect of Squats on Weight Loss. Available at: livestrong.com/article/263897-the-effect-of-squats-on-weight-loss/. Accessed February 6, 2018.