May 16, 2019

How To Squat Properly: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Learn how to squat without weight, use squats to target different muscle groups, and this exercise is so effective for building muscle.

Whether you're working on building strength, protecting your joints or getting the perfect booty, squats are an excellent choice. In fact, squats are one of the most effective strength training exercises for building muscle.

The only problem? They're often performed incorrectly, meaning you miss the benefits of squatting, and risk getting injured along the way.

Keep reading to learn the correct technique for squats so you can build lower body strength without risking injury.

The Benefits of Squats

Squats are complex movements, meaning they activate a wide range of muscles, as well as challenging your balance and coordination. Squats work all the largest muscles of the legs and butt, including those ‘hard to reach’ areas such as quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. What's more, they're a foundational exercise that assist a wide range of day-to-day movements like sitting, crouching and climbing stairs.

In order to get all the muscle-building benefits, it's crucial to learn good form for squats without weight first. Here's what to do:

How To Squat

  1. Stand your feet shoulder-width apart and put your weight on your heels.
  2. Keep your chest up and open as your butt travels back and down (no rolling your shoulders forward).
  3. Keep your knees in a straight line, parallel to your feet.
  4. Lower your body as far as possible, while maintaining control.
  5. Return to an upright standing position with your weight still in your heels.
  6. Remember to keep your head in a neutral position during the entire movement.

Taking the time to get the technique right will help you see results faster than adding extra reps or moving too quickly.

The Most Common Squat Mistakes

Making sure your technique is correct will help you avoid injuries that could set back your workout routine. Being aware of common mistakes can help you learn how to correct your technique so you can get all the possible benefits while avoiding injury.

Here are the three most common squat mistakes, and how to correct them:

  • Knees collapsing inwards: It’s common for your knees to fall towards each other during a squat, but this can result in stress and ligament damage. Keep your knees in faceing in the same direction as your toes to protect your joints and ligaments.
  • Shallow squats: Not going low enough means you’re not getting all the benefits of squatting. Don’t go lower than you can control, but aim for at least a 90 degree angle with your thighs, making sure you can still control the movement.
  • Arching your back: Rounding your back while squatting puts stress on your lower back, resulting in pain and injury. Instead, maintain a flat, neutral spine to relieve pressure.

Squats For Beginners

Chair squats are a great option for beginners and can help you avoid knee pain while building strength for the full movement.

What’s more, if you have trouble with your joints, Chair Squats cause less stress and reduce the risk of falling, as you can always sit down if you lose control. Here’s what to do:

  1. Take a chair and stand in front of it, facing away from the chair.
  2. Perform a squat as outlined above.
  3. At the bottom of the squat, gently tap the chair with your butt without sitting down.
  4. Return to a standing position and repeat.

Advanced Options

If you're craving a challenge, up the intensity of your lower body workouts more challenging by including Frog jumps and Jump Squats. These variations increase your heart rate, helping build your cardio fitness, improve mobility and boost your explosive strength.

Different Types of Squats

Mixing up your squat routine can help make your workouts more exciting as well as stimulating different muscles, helping you get better results.

Try these squat variations in Seven to help you target the different muscle groups, build strength and feel the burn. To target the quads and outer thighs, try Narrow Squats, or focus on quads, glutes and hip flexors, check out Kneeling Squats.

Narrow Squats
Kneeling Squats

You can even do squats without moving at all - perfect for when you have limited space, or while traveling. This type of isometric training is when there is no movement but the muscle fibers are still activated and can be perfectly demonstrated with Wall Sits.

Find demonstrations of all the mentioned exercises in Seven

Read next: How To Do Push-Ups (Beginner to Advanced) for tips on getting the technique right, and tips on getting started with push-ups as a beginner.