move of the week: the basic squat
The Basic Squat
I thought it was important to highlight the basic squat today because it is quite common to perform it with poor form. Back and knee pain can often flare up with improper form, so understanding this move is vital. The squat is one of the best total body exercises as it activates the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, core, upper back, and lower back. Another bonus is that once you’ve mastered the squat, there are a million modifications you can implement to work some additional muscles.
Step 1: Stand upright with feet shoulder width or a little wider apart.
Step 2: Moving the hips backward, bend the knees and hips to lower the torso, as if sitting down in a chair. Aim to get your thighs parallel to the ground. Be sure to keep your knees tracking in line with your toes, but never let your knees go past your toes. Try to keep your chest as up and open as possible, with your back in a neutral position. Overarching your back will place additional pressure on it, causing pain later.
Step 3: Straighten legs and return to start. It is important that you activate your glutes while standing up, as well as focus on driving the weight through your heels. Throughout the entire move you should be able to wiggle your toes due to the weight distribution in your heels.
Recommended number of reps: As many as you find challenging, but I suggest starting with about three sets of 12 and working your way up from there. As always, you may also do time intervals, i.e. as many reps within 30 seconds, 1 minute, etc.
Squats will help your strength no matter what kind of exercise you do. You can always hold dumbbells, place a weighted bar across your trapezius or rear deltoid muscles, or use a resistance band for additional resistance. The possibilities are endless!