Want firmer glutes, hips, and thighs? Squats are a must. Here's how to fine-tune your form for better results.
Raise your hand if you love squats. Probably not, right?
You may not love them, but your glutes, hips, thighs, and calves—all the muscles in your bottom half responsible for keeping you upright and mobile—absolutely do.
Want a firmer lower body? Less pain in your back and knees? Better balance? More power? Stronger bones? Yes, squats can help with all that. The reason: When done correctly, they safely work multiple muscles and joints at the same time.
Get the most out of your squats with this quick workout that fine-turns your form. "We're going to work three key positions of the squat: the top, the bottom, and everything in between," says SilverSneakers fitness expert David Jack.
How the Squats Workout Works
You’ll need open floor space, a bench, and a sturdy gym rack or pole for support.
Warm up with at least five minutes of walking or the warmup exercises from this 20-minute cardio follow-along workout. Perform the exercises below, and use a bench for support if needed. Cool down with deep breathing and stretches of your choice.
As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Exercise #1: Top Squat
Do 2 sets of 60 seconds
Take an athletic stance with your feet flat on the floor, hips back, knees out, and chest up. Check your form, and adjust as needed.
Step forward, set your feet with toes forward, and hold the position for a few seconds. Step backward, set your feet with toes forward, and hold the position for a few seconds.
Repeat this step and hold pattern for 60 seconds. Rest at least 60 seconds, and repeat for two total sets.
Exercise #2 Bottom Squat
Do 2 sets of 5 reps
Take an athletic stance in front of a sturdy gym rack or pole. Set your feet so your toes are forward, and hold on to the rack or pole for support.
Sit down and back into a squat with heels down, knees out, chest up, going as close to parallel as you comfortably can, and using your arms for support. Check your form, and adjust as needed.
Hold for five seconds, and then pull yourself up to stand. Do five reps. Rest at least 60 seconds, and repeat for two total sets.
Exercise #3A: Full Squat 1-2-1
Do 1 set of 10 to 12 reps
Take an athletic stance. Take one second to squat down. Hold this position for two seconds. Push through your feet to drive up strong in one second. Do 10 to 12 reps. Rest at least 60 seconds.
Exercise #3B Full Squat 1-3-1
Do 1 set of 8 to 10 reps
Sit on a bench with your feet shoulder- to hip-width apart and toes forward. Push through your feet to drive up strong in one second. Take three seconds to sit back down. Pause for one second before driving back up. Do eight to 10 reps. Rest at least 60 seconds.
Exercise #3C Full Squat Reps
Do 1 set of 12 to 15 reps
Perform bodyweight squats. Make it easier by bending your hips and knees just a little bit. Make it harder by holding a dumbbell at your chest as you squat. Do 12 to 15 reps, or as many as you can with good form. Rest at least 60 seconds.
When you’re done, cool down and stretch on your own, especially your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. These five stretches are perfect after a walk or a lower-body workout.
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