If your goal is to get a firm buttocks, defined thighs and a flat stomach, squats should be high on your list of activities to improve your figure.
The exercise is nothing more than flexing and extending the knees and hips. That is, as if you were going to perform the movement while sitting and standing, starting from the vertical position of the body.
The movement is considered one of the most complete. Because in addition to exercising the buttocks, it tones the abdomen, thighs and back, which helps to lose weight, lose fat and cellulite, and tone muscles.
Squats have many versions and can be done anywhere. But to carry it out, you have to be careful not to cause injuries, especially to the knees and spine.
The Benefits of Squatting
The Whole Body Works
explains personal trainer Mariana Figueiredo, sports nutritionist and coach of Tropa de Elite, based in São Paulo.
With strong legs and stable glutes, you protect your lower back and gain more balance when you move.
Fold your Arms
If you add a load to the upper body, almost your entire body will work during the exercise.
“You can raise your arms up, hold a ball in your hands, use trapeze weights, overhead weights, kettlebells, etc,” Tatian suggests.
This variant is great for those who have little time to train and want to do exercises worth several workouts at once.
Easier Daily Tasks
With your waist working, you have more range to move with balance on a daily basis. “Strong legs make it easier to sit down and get up from a chair or a sofa, for example,” says teacher Tatian.
Therefore, the squat is indicated both for those who want to better define their body and for those who just want to maintain a perfect physical condition to perform daily tasks.
Squats Reduce Back Problems
“By having stronger thighs and legs, we don’t need as much lower back or waist muscles,” explains Tatianne Cupertino. With the buttocks working more intensely and to their full extent, we also have an aligned pelvis and better spinal posture.
The result is less back pain caused by poor posture during the day.
Improves overall posture.
In addition to protecting the lower back, the squat forces you to work on your balance, since you are not using gym equipment to act as support.
“By holding the bar in front of you during the exercise, you also prevent your torso from flexing, that is, the spine does not bend forward and the back is always straight,” adds personal trainer Mariana.
General tips for performing the movement
Mariana Cupertino offers step-by-step care to avoid knee or spinal injuries:
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart;
- The posture must be straight and you must always look forward;
- Squat down with maximum range of motion (as if you were sitting in a chair), but without lifting your heels off the ground and keeping your stomach contracted;
- Don’t let your knee cross the line of your toes;
- Return to the starting position, exhaling as you do this movement.
When adding weights and objects to the upper limbs, be careful with the load used so as not to overload the spine too much. Finally, if the object is heavy enough to cause you to round your back, bending it forward, it is best to lighten the load.
Types of Squats
Free squat, no deadlift or isometric
- Place your feet hip-width apart, with your toes pointing forward.
- Tighten your stomach muscles and look straight ahead.
- If you are going to perform the movement without a load, place your hands in front of you. If not, reseat the tape.
- Bend your knees and slowly lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Push the buttocks back. This is as if you were about to sit on an imaginary chair.
- Slowly return to the starting position and do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
- For isometric exercises, simply stay in the squatting position for 30 seconds or more, focusing on the range of motion. Repeat this gesture three times.
- Standing and standing with one leg in front of the torso and the rear leg resting on the ball of the foot;
- So, lower your front knee to a 90 degree angle while bending your back leg (knee should almost touch the ground);
- Finally, come back by extending the front knee. But pause before proceeding to full extension: this way you don’t reach the relaxation angle of the quadriceps muscle;
- Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions on each side.
- Stand with your back supported by a chair or support;
- In this way, put one foot on the chair and step forward with the other leg;
- But keep your back straight and lower your torso until your front leg forms a 90-degree angle;
- Remember that the weight should be on the front leg, while the back leg is completely relaxed;
- Do 4 to 5 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Begin by lifting one foot slightly off the ground while balancing on the other;
- Have your arms extended in front of you, parallel to the ground, palms down;
- Then, bend from the hips to begin to lower your body towards the floor. Keep your heels balanced.
- Then extend one leg directly in front of you, parallel to the floor, as you lower yourself down;
- At the bottom of the movement, your butt should be toward your calf;
- As you squat down, pause and begin to come back to a standing position;
- But, don’t let the raised foot touch the ground before starting the next rep;
- Repeat for as many repetitions as possible. The amount is usually not large, because the exercise is very complex
- Finally, switch legs and repeat the movement.
- Begin the movement standing up, with your stomach contracted, your legs wide apart, and your knees semi-flexed;
- Remember to keep your feet together;
- Hold a dumbbell in both hands and extend your arms in front of your body.
- Next, slowly lower your torso into a squat, until your knees are at a 90 degree angle to your thighs, and return without fully extending;
- Then return to the starting position to repeat the squat 12 more times for three sets.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I do squats every day?
If your goal is to guarantee hypertrophy, know that doing the same squats every day, without changing, is not a good idea. According to specialists, the muscle must rest for about 48 hours to be able to develop at rest. But when exercising, our body accumulates molecules to put in the cracks of effort, thus increasing muscle size. However, this only happens with a balanced diet and sufficient rest periods.
With this method, as with other exercises, it is recommended to perform squats up to three times a week. In addition, it is best to perform them on alternate days so that the muscles can rebuild.
Can a pregnant woman do squats?
Exercise is safe for most pregnant women. After all, the movement can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. In addition, it also improves hip mobility and blood circulation throughout the body, helping to prepare the expectant mother for childbirth.
However, there are contraindications in some cases. For example, women with placenta previa, a short cervix, and a possible high-risk pregnancy should avoid moving. If in doubt, talk to your doctor about restrictions.
Is it always better to squat with weights?
It depends. First of all, it is important to know how to perform the movement, with or without weight. Factors like amplitude and correct squat form are more effective than ineffective loads and dips.
So learn how to recruit your leg and buttock muscles first before worrying about pregnancy, which is a natural consequence of evolution.
Knee pain when squatting: what can it be?
At first, the pain may be related to health problems such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, muscle weakness, among others.
In this way, the first step is to seek a medical evaluation to rule out any type of problem. “If you have done checks and everything is in order, then the pain may have something to do with the exercise. Sometimes a person makes the wrong movement, locks the leg too much or turns the knee inwards, “explains Bianca Piccirelli, trainer staff at Vitat.
Therefore, to prevent this from happening, when performing traditional squats, the ideal position is to place the feet in line with the shoulders, so that they are more open. “Don’t start with a wide amplitude and high loads. Go slowly, building up the weight and range of motion over time,” she recalls.
Also, it is important to strengthen the muscles with separate exercises. Instead of just doing squats, you can still opt for a chair extension, horizontal or 45 leg press, and bench press. These exercises strengthen the muscles around the knee joint and help prevent knee pain and injury.