Like Lunges, Squats are a functional compound exercise which is great for muscle building and overall strength. However they are a lot more strenuous and can be harder than most lower body workouts.
There are several ways you can incorporate squats into your workout. Most gyms will have a squat rack and / or smith machine which will help you add weight onto your shoulders to make the exercise even more challenging and activate muscles under tension. This is known to help stimulate deeper muscle fibres and increase ATP which helps stimulate muscle growth.
Overall, the benefits of squats include:
- Burns calories
- Helps improve balance
- Tones your body (bum, legs and abs!)
- Increases strength and muscle mass
- Can help prevent injuries
How to do Squats with only your bodyweight
1. Stand with your hands on the back of your head or out straight 90 degrees and your feet shoulder-width apart
2. Lower your body until your thighs reach a 90 degree angle (as if you were sitting down). Keep your back and neck straight while doing this and use your hands to balance if needed.
3. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds and push back up to the starting position.
Repeat this exercise 10-15 times over 3 or 4 sets. If you find this is too easy, add more reps or sets, or alternatively use a squat variation to further intensify the burn.
Primary muscles used
Abs, Quads, Glutes and Hamstrings
Commonly asked questions about Squats
Should you do squats if you have bad knees?
As long as you don’t experience any discomfort or abnormal pain coming from the knees while doing squats, then there is no reason to not include squats as part of your home or gym work-out routine.
Ensure your posture and form is correct, if you find you’re placing too much stress on the knee joints then you’re probably doing this exercise wrong.
Or, try an alternative – maybe a wall squat (using a medicine ball) which can help force focus away from your knees.
What are the alternatives to squats?
Lunges, reverse lunges, leg press, deadlifts – these are all great alternatives to squats.
Can squats cause damage to my back?
Yes – the force of the squat can cause strain on your spine. This can be dangerous if your form is off and cause disc compression or worse. When squatting, ensure your form is correct – your back and neck aligned straight.
How low should I go when doing a squat?
As low as you can go while still being able to get up! We’re not saying go “ass-to-grass”, but slightly below parallel knees is the ideal depth to activate your primary muscles and trigger growth.