Squat exercises are great for shaping and toning your thighs and gluteal muscles. Squat exercises are also known as knee bends or deep knee bends.
How to Perform Squat Exercises
To perform a squat or knee bend, you simply stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and drop your upper body by bending your knees and leaning slightly forward as you lower yourself. Once you reach the deepest part of the squat, you raise yourself back up to a straightened standing position.
Muscles Worked Doing Squats
As stated above, squats are great for shaping your thighs and gluteal muscles (your butt). However, your calves are also worked, as well as your lower back and to a lesser extent, your abdominals and obliques.
Squats with Dumbbells
One way to add some intensity to an exercise routine consisting of squats is to add some weight. This can be done quite effectively using dumbbells. Start with 10-pound dumbbells. Here’s how:
Step 1: Resting Position
Assume the normal resting position with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the dumbbells up, palms facing you and your forearms perpendicular to the floor.
Step 2: Squat
Perform the deep knee bend as far down as you can go. When working with weights, keep your back straight to make sure you don’t strain the muscles of your lower back.
Step 3: Come Back Up
Using just your thighs and calves, lift yourself back up to the standing rest position. For beginners, this should be repeated 10 times, rest for five minutes and repeat. If you’re a little more advanced, try 20 reps.
Add Some Intensity: Part 1
For an added intensification of the exercise, move up to 20-pound dumbbells. Add some upper and lower arm work by holding your forearms parallel to the floor and raising them to the perpendicular position as you perform the squat and returning them to parallel as you come back up.
Add Some Intensity: Part 2
After you’ve been working out for a week or two, you may find these normal squats aren’t hard enough. Now it’s time to add a little more intensity to the workout by using a wall. Lean back against the wall so your back is flat against it. Keep the dumbbells up against your body until you become used to this one. Now perform the squat while you keep your back flat against the wall. The added friction of your back against the wall, added to the angle your upper body is at, will add some serious intensity to this exercise. Start with 10 reps until you get used to the increased effort required, to make sure you don’t pull or tear anything in your legs.
For Your Health
Warming up before an intense workout is very important. Run in place for about a minute. Then stretch out all the muscles in your legs and back before moving on to the actual exercise.
Done right, squats can be a very effective lower body sculpting workout by themselves.