Image by: CrossFit Fever
By Harper Finch
Thighs and buttocks are problem areas for many women, and squats are one of the most effective ways to improve these areas. They help you strengthen and tone your entire lower body, including your butt, thighs, calves, and core.
Keep reading to find out all of the benefits of squats, as well as some variations that you can try today.
#1) A Functional And Versatile Exercise
Squats are a compound exercise–they work more than one muscle group at a time and they are particularly effective for burning fat and building strength. Because they involve a natural movement, they can be done by just about anyone (if you have joint problems, talk to your doctor first). They are a functional exercise, so they will help you perform everyday activities like sitting, standing, and bending down to pick things up. They are also versatile enough to be done in almost any location, with or without the use of weights or equipment.
#2) Work Your Entire Lower Body
The thing that makes squats so great for women is that they are a total lower-body workout. They work all the major muscle groups of the butt, hips, thighs, and even the calves. They build strength in the legs and give definition to the gluteal muscles (translation: a round, perky butt) and thigh muscles.
#3) Strengthen Your Core
Squats also help strengthen the core. When you do the exercise, you have to engage your abdominal and back muscles to keep your balance. This gives you a tighter, flatter abdomen and a stronger lower back. It also improves your balance and posture in everyday life.
How To Do A Basic Squat
Getting the right form in a squat is key. Focus on these key points before you advance to other squat variations:
- Stand straight, with your feet hip width apart.
- Straighten your back and tighten your abdominal muscles.
- Lower your body, keeping your back straight and tall.
- Stop when your legs are parallel to the floor.
- Hold this position for a few seconds then, keeping your weight on your heel, rise back up to standing.
- Complete 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
Tips For Squatting
- A slow squat is more effective than a fast squat.
- Give your glutes an extra squeeze when you return to standing.
- Hold your abdominal muscles in while squatting down.
- Keep your knees aligned with your feet.
- Don’t squat below the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Once you are comfortable doing a regular squat and you have your form down, you can begin to add variations to work the muscles in different ways.
Add Weight. Adding weight to a basic squat increases the effectiveness of the exercise. You can hold dumbells in your hands, either at your sides or on your shoulders. If you have a barbell, hold it across your shoulders. Or use a kettlebell, held in front of you with both hands.
Inner-thigh squat. To do this variation, place your feet a little wider than shoulder width and turn your knees and toes to a 45-degree angle. Keep your back straight and lower your torso straight down until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
Jump squats. This variation increases the cardio benefit of the exercise. To do jump squats, begin like a regular squat, but do not return to the starting position. Instead, jump in the air and land on the balls of your feet. Perform this exercise on an impact-resistant surface and try to land as softly as you can to minimize the shock.