The squat is one of the foundational movement patterns in daily living, meaning that you are probably squatting every day without even realizing it. You can improve mobility and strength for your daily life by adding squats to your exercise routine. Below, personal trainer Katie Hutchins shares a “show & tell” on how to do a squat correctly.
Squats, as an exercise, are a functional lower body movement that strengthens the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. There are a number of variations to the squat that can make it more accessible to beginning exercisers, or more challenging for seasoned fitness enthusiasts. Many different pieces of fitness equipment can be used to make squats safer, more effective, and accessible to all levels.
Correct form is key for any of these squat variations. Squatting with good form will ensure that the exercise is effective and safe. Start with your body in a well-aligned standing position: your shoulders should be straight above your hips, which should be directly over your heels, in a shoulder-wide stance.
The movement of the squat begins with a hip hinge, your hips moving backwards and down. Ensure that your chest stays up and lifted, your back neutral and straight, and your eyes forward. As your hips move back and down, keep your knees over your feet and prevent them from collapsing inward. Sink your weight into your heels, and pretend that you are trying to lower yourself into a chair. In the upward portion of the squat, press your heels into the floor and squeeze your glutes up and forward, coming into a standing position and bringing your hips back to a neutral position under your shoulders. Aim to complete 3 sets of 10.
A TRX suspension trainer is a great way to modify the squat to add more stability, or to make the squat more challenging. Using the TRX allows for more backward movement of the hips with more stability. A basic TRX squat starts with the TRX adjusted to mid length, both hands gripping the handles of the TRX, standing a few steps out from the anchor point to hold some tension on the straps. From there, the movement pattern is the same as a basic bodyweight squat; your shoulders should stay back and down as you hinge your hips backwards, letting the TRX support your movement. In the upward movement, make sure to use your glutes to press upward, and do not use the TRX straps to pull yourself up. Try to complete 3 sets of 10.
A more advanced squat movement with the TRX is a single leg squat, also known as a pistol squat. The starting position is the same as the basic TRX squat, with arms extended and tension on the straps, but before you begin the movement, lift one foot off of the floor and extend it forward, toe up towards the ceiling and heel off of the floor. Your weight is centered over the working leg, and the opposite leg stays elevated in front of you throughout the movement. Once more, hinge the hips backwards and down, keeping shoulders down, spine neutral, and weight through the heel. Return to the starting position by pressing the heel into the floor and engaging the glutes; resist the urge to pull yourself up by the TRX handles. Start with 3 sets of 8 for each leg.
By adding squats to your exercise routine, you can enhance your daily life and make your day-to-day tasks easier. If you want to learn more about these or other exercises that can improve your functional movements, please feel free to ask me, or one of the other trainers at Powell Wellness Center or Culpeper Sport & Fitness.
If you’d like to schedule a training session with Katie or another trainer, please contact fitness manager Patrice Barklund at 540-445-5395 or firstname.lastname@example.org