No Excuses!

We talk about diet often, but what about exercise? Our sedentary way of life takes its toll sooner or later and we all can benefit from 5-10 minutes of moving each day. It will increase your work performance and make you happier!

People have all sorts of reasons for skipping workouts – too tired, no time, can’t get to the gym, traveling, etc. I hope to end your reasons for excuses today!

You can get an amazing workout anywhere, even if you only have 2 square feet of space!

SQUATS are one of the absolute best exercises out there!

squat

Why?

1. Squats are efficient. They are a compound, whole-body exercise that work every muscle in your body – legs, butt, abs, back, shoulders.

Only have three minutes? Pop out 50 squats!

2. Squats make you think better by increasing blood flow to your brain. Better concentration. Better memory.

Tired but have to attend an important meeting? Go in a bathroom stall and do 20 squats.

3. Squats are safe. When performed correctly, squats are one of the safest exercises out there. They are rehabilitative for the knees and the parallel squat (as shown above) actually protects knees.

How? The depth of the parallel squat ensures a balance among the hamstrings on the back of your legs and your quadriceps on the front. Many times, injuries occur from from an imbalance among these muscle groups.

How do you perform the squat safely?

1. Proper foot position. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width and toes slightly turned out (think baseball catcher).

2. Proper balance. Your weight should go through your HEELS and not your toes. Trouble with this? Pick your toes up in your shoes.

3. Proper knees. When squatting, your knees should track your toes. If your knees do not line up with your toes, push them OUT (think spreading your legs). This should allow your weight to stay on your heels and your hips to get down there between your knees.

4. Proper trunk. Your back should be straight, your shoulders held down in their sockets, and your front nice and tall like you are going to walk with books on your head. Hold that position. This is a vital step.

5. Proper movement. When beginning a squat, stick your butt back, like you are sitting in a chair. In fact, it is more than okay to begin with a chair behind you. You can decrease the height of the chair or other object slowly over time until you are parallel or below.

Go back and down as far as possible while driving your knees out and keeping your heels on the ground. Parallel is when the TOP of your legs are on the same plane as your knees. Your knees may go slightly in front of your toes, but you should not feel stress on them. If you do, stand up, sit back and keep your weight in your heels.

Return to standing by driving through your heels and squeezing the back of your legs & butt until completely erect. Repeat.

Uncomfortable with the squat? Can’t squat far enough? No worries!

Every time you pass a doorway, stand in it with a leg in each room and practice sitting your butt back and squatting 10 times while holding on to the doorway! Your work will pay off!

The four rules above are the basics of the bodyweight squat. Other factors to consider as you are comfortable:

  • Trunk stability. I said this was a great ab exercise, but you need to think about it! Before squatting, pull your tummy in and tighten it. Keep it tight throughout the squat. If needed, reset at the top, NOT anywhere in between. This will also keep your back straight.
  • Uprightness. Not a deal breaker, but you want to eventually be able to squat with a wall directly in front of you and not face plant. To fix this, stand in front of a wall and squat. Start a few steps away and take a step forward as you get better.
  • Movement. The difference between the elite and us normal folks is often as simple as body awareness. Can you move with choice muscles on command and control your body correctly. As you get better at squatting, think about pulling yourself down to parallel with the back of your legs and butt and pushing up with everything. This adds a whole new level to the body weight squat.

2 Comments

  • Pat

    Reply Reply March 17, 2011

    Great instructions and encouragement re: squats, Gerilyn! This thought came to me as something you may want to consider addressing: during the last 2 weeks I’ve heard of 3 of my 50+ friends ‘throwing their backs out.’ One was via fbook so I don’t know how she did hers, but the other two just threw backs out without doing any one particular thing. This is a concern for us baby-boomer types…what exercises can we do to strengthen our core and our lower backs? I’m sure the squats are one…what are some other easy, quick exercises we can do to help us as we start gardening and working in our yards this spring? Much thanks…keep up the good work!

    • gerilyn

      Reply Reply March 17, 2011

      Great idea! Thanks! Will address! 🙂

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