Squats 101: Everything You Need to Know to Squat Like a Pro

Whether you're an athlete or just looking to strengthen your lower body, adding squats to your exercise routine is an excellent way to get the results you want. Long considered one of the best lower body exercises, squats work more than one muscle group and teach your body how to activate muscles together to create movement.
The main muscle groups used during a squat are the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and abdominal muscles. Also used to a lesser extent are your hip flexors, adductors and calves.
There are several different types of squats, each with its own unique technique.

  • Goblet squats- holding a weight like a cup in front of you and squatting
  • Front squats - weight is racked in front, with your elbows up
  • Back squats - weight is racked behind your neck, balancing on your shoulders
  • Single-leg squats - one leg supports you in your squat position

The best squat to start with is a goblet squat. By putting the weight in front of your body, you are more likely to do the exercise correct because your weight is less likely to go forward. Other basic squat technique points to keep in mind include:

  1. Feet should be shoulder width apart.
  2. Hips are the first thing to move, and they should move backwards.
  3. Stomach should be tight at all times. This will help you keep your chest up.

The exception is the single-leg squat. During this type of squat, the leg should be able to support the body without letting the knee cave toward the mid-line. If you need help to keep your knees going outside the mid-line, add a blue band to give an added cue, or look in the mirror while doing the exercise to see what you're doing.
Make sure you watch your mechanics while doing squats. Doing so can help you avoid injury and pain. Some of the most common squat mistakes are:

  • hips never going backwards,
  • chest falling forward,
  • your weight coming forward onto your toes,
  • knees caving in toward the mid-line of the body.

Once you get your technique down, including squats in your workout can help lead to a stronger, healthier body. Experiment with different variations and weights while squatting and you're sure to see the results you want.