Friday, March 16, 2012


This guy is just a cartoon!
Squats are often called the King of Exercises. This is because squats are BOTH one of the most PRODUCTIVE exercises as well as one of the most DIFFICULT exercises. Learn to do this one – you’ll be glad you did!

  • Do not perform any exercise without first consulting your doctor.
  • Use a spotter – A MUST for this exercise.
  • Use safety clips.
  • Dress comfortably; wear proper shoes, use grips or a chalk (eco) ball.

MUSCLES WORKED Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, hip flexors, and calf muscles.

  • Do this exercise in a power rack. A Smith machine can also be used.
  • If you are completely new at this:start by using an empty barbell or even a Body Bar. Learn the motion with almost no weight and gradually increase the weight.
  • Set up the pins in the power rack at a position a few inches below shoulder level. This allows you to get the bar on and off without catching it on the racks. After you have the bar at the proper starting height, load the plates and then put the safety clamps on the bar.
  • Set the safety rails at the bottom just slightly lower than your lowest point in the squat in case you fail in the movement. Set this level conservatively at first. As you get more confident with the movement, you can lower yourself down further. 

  • Step under the bar, making sure it rests on the area just below the base of your neck and between the shoulders.
  • Get your balance when you lift the bar off the rack by placing one foot in front of your upper body and one behind.
  • Once the bar has been removed, position your feet evenly about shoulder-width apart.

Use an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width.

  1. Squat down, as if you are going to sit on chair.
  2. Go down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. If you don’t go down that far, you’re cheating yourself and doing a fake squat. But, if going this low will be PAINFUL – DON’T DO IT!
  3. Go down low, and you’ll feel it in every muscle in your legs. This will give you a really strong core as well as strong legs and a strong back.
  4. Stand up by extending your hips and knees until your legs are straight, and exhale on your way up.
  5. Replace barbell upon rack and unload plates when finished.

  • Point your feet slightly outward; NOT straight. The quadriceps muscles can contract more efficiently when the feet are pointing slightly outward. 
  • The upper body should be straight and erect with head facing forward. 
  • Abdominals should be slightly contracted to assist in keeping the back straight. 
  • Look straight ahead and keep your back straight (not round or arched; keep it flat). 
  • Bend at your knees as if you were going to sit back in a chair. 

Keep your lower back safe:
  • Squeeze your glutes as you get to the top of the squat. Your glutes have the power. 
  • Be sure to bring your hips and shoulders up at the same rate. 

  • Variations on the SquatThere are many ways to do a squat without using weights. In future blogs I will write about some of these:
    Ball Squats, Chair Squats, One-Legged Squats, Squats with a Ball Between the Knees, Squats with a resistance band, Wall Slides.
  • Substitutes for the SquatThere are also alternatives to doing squat exercises for working your quads. These includes the Ball Leg Press, Leg Press Resistance Bands, Lunges, and 

Step Ups

Bench or riser (steps as used in many group exercise classes) 8-12 inches tall. Stand in front of the step or riser facing forward.

  1. Place your right foot in the middle of step. Make sure your heel is fully on the step, not hanging off the edge.
  2. Step up with the left, just tapping the step as you as you reach it. Exhale as you raise the leg.
  3. Balance your body for 1-2 seconds on the right leg.
  4. Lower the left leg and touch the whole foot on the floor. Your left leg should be behind your body to help stabilize your weight as it is shifting.
  5. The step up is a unilateral leg exercise, which means that you train each leg independently. Continue doing the exercise with the right leg on the platform. 
Do 12 - 15 reps and then switch to the left side. Do each leg for 1 - 3 sets.

Your right thigh should be parallel to the floor, at a right angle to your calf.

If you don’t feel comfortable with a riser or step height between 8-12 inches, start out at a lower height.
The result is that you improve the symmetry of your leg musculature and your balance.

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