Leg squats are one of the best and most satisfying exercises you can do in the gym. Not only do they work one of the biggest muscle groups in your body – your legs, but they are also a full body exercise that benefits many other areas as well – improving overall strength and particularly your core. And of course they can also be great for toning your glutes (girls!).

But for the inexperienced it can also be one of the more intimidating exercises to try. It involves heavy duty barbells and the squat rack. A piece of kit which, lets be honest, wouldn’t look out of place in a medieval dungeon. But this isn’t about fad exercises, this is a power move which is all about the technique. And getting it right can have the potential to be a game changer for your overall strength and fitness.

Conquer your fears!

Conquer your fears!

So you want to know how to squat properly? Then follow these tips!

Getting started

  1. Set the bar up on supports which are just below shoulder height. If it’s your first time then don’t put any weight on.
  2. Shoes – unless they have a very flat sole with a low toe to heal rise (like some of the Nike Free trainers) then it can be best to go barefoot. This will give you a flat base, stopping the padded heal of your trainers from putting you off balance.

Moving into position

  1. Face the bar and grab it overhand with your hands just outside your shoulders.
  2. Step under the bar and rest it on your back. Pull your shoulder blades together. This will form a nice shelf for the bar to sit on.
  3. Lift the bar off the supports by straightening your body and step back just enough from the supports to give yourself some room.

The descent

  1. Place your feet shoulder width apart and plant yourself firmly into the floor.
  2. Feel your weight in the middle of your feet with your toes pointing forwards (not out to the sides).
  3. Bend your knees slightly, pull in your abs to tense your core and set your head so that your are looking forward or slightly down.
  4. Squat as deeply as you can so that your thighs end at parallel to the floor.
  5. Knees should go forwards but not past the end of your toes

Going back up

  1. Keep your torso tight and upright.
  2. Actively engage your glutes to follow the same path upward.
  3. When you reach the top, thrust your hips forward to lock into the upright position again.
  4. Repeat.

So there you have it. If you’re unsure then also ask a friendly looking trainer for some pointers as they are usually only too happy to give you some advice.

How to squat properly – brush up on your technique with these tips

Thanks to David Jordan at The Fitting Rooms for the squat racks!