Squats are one of the best exercises you can do to improve your strength, tone your muscles, and improve your overall fitness. It’s important to have the right technique with squats to avoid injuries or overstraining muscles. But once you’ve got it down, squats are great move to incorporate into your regular workouts.
Squat hold: This squat variation is great for targeting your upper thigh muscles and building up strength. Start with your feet slightly turned out, just enough to have a steady balance. Keep your chest up and your core engaged, and keep your hips and back down. Holding this upper body position, squat low until your hips are below your knees. Hold this position for 10 seconds before lifting out of the squat (then repeat!). Make sure you keep your weight centered and don’t let your balance move too far forward over your toes.
Prisoner Squat: While this exercise targets mainly the quads, it also works out pretty much every other muscle in your lower body as well as your core. To complete, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your fingers on the back of your head with your elbows out, like you’re a prisoner. Get it? Keep your elbows and shoulders back. Your back should be naturally arched. Before you squat, be sure to brace your core and hold throughout the squat. Be sure to breathe throughout the exercise, as it can be easy to forget when your core is engaged.
Split Squat: If you’re looking to improve each individual leg and correct any imbalances you might have, the split squat (also called Bulgarian split squat) is for you! To complete this exercise, you’ll need a raised surface like a bench or platform. Facing away from the bench, extend one foot behind you to rest on the bench. Keep the knee on the back leg bent; you might feel the muscles in this leg stretch as you complete the exercise. Squat on your front leg, making sure to keep your torso straight. You can up the ante by hold a bar weight or free weight at chest level.
Jump Squat: Take your squats to the next level with this tough variation! Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, engage your core and stand tall before dropping into a basic squat. From there, spring up into a jump! Try to get as high off the floor as you can. Once you’ve landed, head back into another squat. Repeat ten times. You can take a short break between reps if you need it, but try to complete two or three reps for best results. This variation is tough but gets your whole body moving and your heart pumping.
Squats improve more than just your leg muscles! They also help improve circulation by giving you a great blast of cardio with no impact or lower back pain. Squats burn fat, improve muscle movement and strength, and can be done anywhere without equipment! With so many variations and options to challenge your body, there’s no reason not to add squats to your daily routine.