Squats are probably the most difficult but rewarding exercise you can do. It recruits more muscle than any other exercise, but it is also harder to do properly than any other exercise. Follow these directions to get it right!
Load a barbell on a squat rack with an appropriate amount of weight, making sure that there is equal weight on both sides of the bar. Get under the bar and place your hands wherever gives you the most stability. Some people like a narrow grip when squatting, some like a wider grip, but most people grab the bar somewhere in between. Make sure that the bar is resting on your TRAPESIUS muscle and NOT on your NECK! Lift the weight and take a step backwards to avoid hitting the rack when squatting.
Keeping your knees relatively still, squat down by sticking your buttocks out behind you slightly. This movement is similar to sitting on a toilet. Do not let your knees pass over your toes! If your knees come forward over your toes they will be subjected to a very high amount of stress, and we want to minimize stress on our joints when we work out. The bar itself should stay in a vertical plane when you squat. That is, the weight itself should go straight up and down, it should not sway forwards and backwards. Also, make sure that your back remains straight when you do this movement! Although this is a leg movement, both your lower back and abs will receive a powerful workout from having to stabilize your body if you squat properly.
Lower your body until your knees form a right angle. Put another way, lower your body until your upper legs are parallel to the floor. If you squat any lower than this, it will put too much stress on the knees. From this point, use your legs and your buttocks to push the weight back up to the starting position.
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