Squats: The Mac Daddy of Lower-Body Toning

Squats: The Mac Daddy of Lower-Body Toning

womansquattingWe love the squat because it’s simple, safe, and does a bang up job of sculpting your legs and butt. What you may not know is that you can tweak your squat form and style to suit your goals.

4 Ways to Make the Squat Your Own

Here are 4 different versions of The Squat. Each has a different focus, so try them all to see which ones work best for you. Aim for 8 to 15 reps for each.

BASIC SQUAT

Focus: Overall butt and thigh shaping and sculpting.

[A] Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, your weight slightly back on your heels, and place your hands on your hips.

[B] Sit back and down, as if you’re sitting into a chair directly behind you. Lower as far as you comfortably can, but no lower than thighs parallel to the floor—and don’t allow your knees to travel out in front of your toes. Once you hit the bottom of the move, pause for a moment, then straighten your legs and stand back up without fully locking your knees.

sumo squatsSUMO SQUAT

Focus: Major emphasis on the buttocks muscles, especially those deeper, hard-to-hit muscle fibers. Also brings in the inner thigh muscles.

[A] Stand tall with your legs a few inches wider than hip-width apart and toes angled slightly outward. Hold your slightly rounded arms up in front of your chest with your fingertips touching.

[B] Squat low so your butt drops below knees —in this position that’s okay because it won’t overstress the knees—but don’t allow your knees to move out in front of your toes.  Stand back up without fully locking your knees.

STEP-OUT SQUATstep out squat

Focus: An inner and outer thigh perfector.

[A] Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, your weight slightly back on your heels, and place your hands on your hips.

[B] Step your right foot about a stride length out to the side. As your right foot touches the floor, bend your knees to sit back and down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Press off the right foot to stand up and bring your legs back together. Do all your reps to the right, then repeat an equal number of reps by stepping out to the left.

jump squatJUMP SQUAT

Focus: Serious overall lower body toner, including the calves. A terrific core move too.

[A] Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, your weight slightly back on your heels. Hold your arms at your sides.

[B] Bend your knees to squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As soon as you hit the bottom of the movement, straighten your legs quickly and spring upward a few inches off the floor. As soon as your feet touch the floor again, move into the next rep. You can use your arms to help power the movement by swinging them upward as you jump and pressing them down and back as you come down.

2 Ways to Ease Up

– Don’t bend your knees quite as far. If your muscles aren’t very strong or you have ‘crunchy’ knees, only lower a quarter-to-half of the way down.

– Hold on to the back of a sturdy chair for support. This will allow you to use your arms to cheat a little and also help you maintain your balance.

3 Ways to Push Yourself Harder

– Hold a light weight in each hand

– Increase the number of reps up to 15. When you can do a set of 15 easily, increase to 2 sets, then 3 sets per exercise.

– Slow the movement down. You can even slow the jump squats down by pausing at the bottom of the movement and pressing down a little bit lower before spring up again.

Liz Neporent is an award-winning health and fitness writer and co-author of The Thin In 10 Weight-Loss Plan. You can follow Liz on twitter @lizzyfit.

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