I attended a new group fitness class on Monday at a different gym than I normally go to. There were probably 30-40 people in the class, all or most of which were not new to exercising. When we got to the portion of the class where we were doing squats, I was SHOCKED at what they were doing! I SOOOO wish I knew how to make and upload a video and put it on here because I'd love to SHOW you what they were doing...but use your imagination and go with me here: About half of them were doing their "squat" by bending at the waist (with just a slight bend in the knees) and bending over--bringing their chest down (parallel with the floor) and then back up straight. Down and up, down and up with the chest not the butt. Now if you can't picture that...hop up from your chair and try it. You'll see that it doesn't work your legs AT ALL. It may stretch your hamstrings just a teensy bit, but for the most part, all that up and down with the head just makes you dizzy after a while. Then you've got the other half of the people--actually bending their knees--but as they lower--looking more like a frog than a person sitting in an invisible chair (which is what you want). It was like there was a string attached to their butts that was pulling them straight down towards their heels rather than back like into a chair. Again----try it if you need to. You'll find that doing "squats" that way will stretch your calf muscle and strain your shin but not give you the good quad workout that you're after. Also, by that, you are putting way too much pressure on the knee joint and are opening the door for injury.
A correct squat uses these rules:
- Toes and heels the same distance apart (unless you're working inner thighs).
- Keep your weight in your heels.
- Lower down to a sitting-in-an-invisible chair position.
- Can see knees at all times--they should NOT go out past your toes.
- Upper half of body remains up, looking straight out in front of you.
- Don't let butt drop lower than your knees.
- At the top of the movement, do not lock your knees--keep a slight bend.
- Keep abs tight and pulled in towards spine during move.
You can also stand facing a wall with your toes about 6 in. from the wall. Squat down. If your knees or your head hits the wall---you need to sit further back in your heels and keep your top half more erect.
A slight tilt forward of your upper body is fine, but you should not be leaning so far over that you are looking straight down at the floor. Keep your eyes out in front of you.
Lastly, to get the Beachbody scoop on squats, go check out the TRAINER TIPS with TONY and scroll over (about 5 clicks) to the video labeled "Squats". If for no other reason, check it out to see what Tony Horton looked like in the way early days! (so glad he decided to cut that hair!!!) ***You have to be a Team Beachbody club member to access Trainer Tips.