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Fresh, Fit and Healthy Fitness  

Squats are King!


Leg Routines Require Attention to Proper Form


By Tom Bonanti


Squats are King!For anyone who is serious about weight training, you know that “leg day” is not just a walk in the park. Leg routines require, above all others, attention to proper form, serious concentration, and set after set of some of the most important and grueling exercises. Lunges, dead lifts and squats are essential for building tree trunk legs and glutes of steel.

In nearly every sport or fitness activity, your legs are your most important asset. That’s why squats are often called the “king” of all exercises. The squat involves glutes (butt), hamstrings (back of upper legs), calves, and most especially, the quadriceps (tops of the upper front legs). In addition to being the best exercise for lower body, squats also involve, at least indirectly, many upper body muscle groups as well, including shoulders, back and especially abdominals.

When you do squats, place a barbell on a squat rack or set up the bar on the Smith machine. Use light weight at the outset. Duck under the bar and position it across your shoulders on your trapezius (slightly above the rear deltoids). Grasp the bar using a grip width that is comfortable for your body and pull your elbows to the rear. Inhale deeply, rotate your pelvis forward, keep your head up, look straight ahead and carefully lift the bar off of the rack. Move back a step or two from the rack and set your feet shoulder width apart, keeping your toes pointed at an angle slightly outward.

Now, here is the most important caution regarding the squat. You must maintain a very erect body position when descending into the deep squat position. Leaning too far forward or flexing the spine as you squat can be dangerous for your lower back. This error, which is very common even among seasoned athletes, is the major cause of lower back injuries. Once you have descended so your thighs are parallel to the floor, extend your legs and straighten your torso to return to the starting, upright position. There you have it - the perfect squat!

A couple of other pointers can help you do squats safely and effectively. First, you should learn how to go down into the squat position so that you are low enough. The top of your thighs should be parallel to the floor in a well executed squat. If you stop the squat any higher than that, you will lose some of the benefit to your butt and hamstrings. Secondly, learn to breathe properly by inhaling as you descend and exhale as you come up. Third, try to lower yourself slowly and carefully and try to return to the upright position more explosively.

Fresh Fit and Healthy If you want to build legs and butt you simply have to do squats. I recommend that you do them twice a week. Always begin with a light set with manageable weight. Try three sets of 10 to 12 reps after your initial warm-up set.