Published: May 02, 2014 9:22 AM EDT
Updated: May 02, 2014 9:46 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. --

The Perfect Squat

Positioning: Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, head facing forward and your chest held up and out. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance.

Downward Movement: Sit back and down like you're sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head forward and push your hips back (don’t drop your head). Keep your chest up and let your lower back arch slightly as you descend. Lower down slowly until your thighs are near parallel to the floor, with your knees staying above your feet. Press your weight back into your heels.

Upward Movement: Keep your body tight, your abs are flexed, push through your heels and exhale as you bring yourself back to the starting position. Don’t “lock” out your legs.

Variations of the Squat

Just like your wardrobe, your fitness routine could use some variety.

Body Weight: Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, head facing forward and your chest held up and out. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance.
Dumbbell Squat: Add hand weights. High hand and Low hand positions.

Squat Press: Dumbbells on the floor, Left side/ Right Side. Or both.
Squat-Curl-Press: Add bicep curl or Hammer Curl while squatting.

Goblet Squat: (Front squat) Add dumbbell.
Plie (Sumo) Squat: Widen your foot positioning and angle toes outward 15º.
Single Leg Squat: (Pistol squat) start by using just the descent phase.

*BONUS: Add arm extension, flexion, torso rotation, and jumps!

Start with 3 sets of 10 squats, and then add more reps as you get used to the motion. Focus on your form, and then worry about adding reps.

Benefits: Most Bang for your Buck (and variety) Squats activate all of the muscles throughout your body. There are 100’s of types of squats, ball, box, plie, goblet, etc.
Benefits: Maintain Mobility and Balance. Strong legs are crucial for staying mobile as you get older, and squats are great for increasing leg strength. They also work out your core, stabilizing muscles, which will help you to maintain balance, helping prevent falls.


Most Common Squatting Mistakes

Mistake 1: Don’t Go LOW Enough

Probably the biggest mistake comes from the myth that squatting too low is bad for your knees. Don’t get me wrong, joint mobility and flexibility do play a part in how low you can go, but think about the real world or functional uses of the squat. Visualize a baby crouched down, or a golfer lining up a putt.

Mistake 2: Weight Too Far Forward / Leaning Forward

When squatting, you want to keep your torso fairly upright. Leaning forward causes a strain on the knees and back. Really engage your glutes, keeping your weight in your heels. You should be able to freely wiggle your toes as you sit back into your squat. This will help you shift your weight far enough back to truly challenge your glutes.