Squats are a great simple and equipment-free way to strengthen and tone your leg muscles. Effective squats can be done virtually anywhere and require no special equipment. As with any exercise, it is important to maintain the correct form in order to prevent injury. Follow our guide to get started in your own daily squat workout.
Place your feet just wider than your shoulders and make sure your toes point forward. Do not let your toes point outward or your knees go forward. As you sink back into the squat, keep your chest forward, and pull your tailbone back as if you were going to sit in a chair. Go far enough down that your thighs are parallel to the floor. You can hold your arms out in front of you, clasp them together, or hold them out to the side. Don't worry if you can't get all the way to a 90-degree angle in your knees the first time; make it a goal to work toward. Press down into your heels to bring yourself back up to standing. That's one squat!
For these simple squats, you will start just as with the deep squats described above. When your thighs become parallel to the floor, hold that position and bounce yourself gently up and down. These small movements are called pulses. Your feet will remain anchored to the floor, and the action here originates from your knees and hips. Count 10 pulses and then return to standing and repeat the squat from the start. This counts as one squat, and you're ready to start again.
Adding Extra Resistance
Once you are confident in your ability to do squats, you might want to add some more resistance to make them more difficult. Hold some dumbbells in your hands while you do the squats. Even adding small 3-or 5-pound dumbbells will make a difference. You can work your way up to heavier weights as you gain experience. Hold the dumbbells out in front of you as before or bring them up in a bicep curl as you squat. Try holding a heavier dumbbell with both hands. Vary your arm movements to keep your workout interesting and change the active muscle.
50 Squats a Day Challenge
Take your workout anywhere by doing the 50 squats a day challenge. Make a goal to go 50 squats per day. This is even easier than it sounds! Simply do 10 squats at a time, 5 times a day. You might even discover that you're an overachiever. Take a few minutes at a time throughout your day to do 10 squats. Choose times when you typically have a few minutes like while you're waiting for the coffee to brew or the paper to come out of the printer. Wear good shoes or take them off if you don't have flat shoes. Good footing is important. Once you get in the habit of doing 50 squats a day and find a routine that works for you, you'll be ready to take on the 100 squats a day challenge!