Squats are part of a basic movement that is completed in most women's daily lives. If you've been intimidated by them in the past, here's why squats are for women and how to do them in the privacy of your home.
Squats are an exercise that can put people on separate sides of a room. Some women would argue your life is not complete without this exercise and then there's a large amount of women who just ignore its existence completely. If you've been in the ignoring group, I'm here to tell you why squats are for women and show you 3 ways to do them at home. It's so important, I even made a video about it:
Why Squats are Great for Women
First let's talk about why you should seriously consider doing squats to strengthen your body. Think about all the times you bend down to pick up something, especially something on the heavier side (Amazon box, child throwing a tantrum, misbehaving dog, etc). For me, this happens daily, if not multiple times a day. Having a strong body to accomplish these tasks is very beneficial because you will accomplish your goal AND not hurt your body in the process. Personally, I am getting to place where I have to VERY strong to move a misbehaving child or dog; they're getting so big!
Bending down and lifting/picking up something uses muscle down the back of your body, described by some as the posterior chain of muscles. They include your back (including core muscles), hips/rear end, hamstrings down the backside of your legs, and calves and they're very important for helping you do the things listed above in your life. Strengthening them also helps prevent lower back pain, which a lot of people suffer from.
Muscles Squats Work
A simple squat with no weights or variations works the following muscles: calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and abdominals. As you add variations and weights you have the ability to work other muscle groups including your back and arms. Hmm, sounds like all those muscles we talked about above in the posterior chain. This brilliant exercises works all the things we need to be strong women in ONE EXERCISE! Eureka!
While I do not encourage exercising simply to burn a certain number of calories, squats are an effective calorie-burning exercise because they are using multiple muscle groups. A recent study found that squatting with a barbell at low intensity burned about 11kcal/minute. When comparing the calories burned during other low intensity weighted exercises, squatting still burned the most calories. When you are short on time, adding squats to your daily routine is a great way to accomplish a higher intensity workout in an efficient amount of time.
3 At-Home Squat Variations for Women
There are several at-home squat variations to try based on your fitness level, time, energy, and equipment. Each type of squat offers benefits for women. The best squats for women to try at home are bodyweight squat, front goblet squat and TRX® squat.
If you are new to exercising or squatting, start with a bodyweight squat to get accustomed to the movement and strengthen the muscles used to squat. It's really important to work on proper form, which is basically teaching your brain and body to communicate properly on this new way to move. Don't skip this step!
#1 - Bodyweight Squat
Doing a squat in front of the mirror is a great way to be sure your form is correct. Studies have shown that squatting in front of a mirror may help prevent back/knee injuries as well as keep your balance more evenly distributed throughout your body rather than putting more body weight on one particular leg.
Adding a chair to your body weight squat will help maintain your form. It ensures you are sitting back into the squat and keeping your weight on your heels, not your toes. A chair squat may help increase safety for beginners who may have difficulty getting up or balancing on their own. Complete the chair squat the same way you would a bodyweight squat with the exception of sitting back until your bottom touches the chair, and then come back up to standing position. Complete about 12-15 reps and increase the intensity by pulsing in the squatted position.
- Start with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, keep your chest and hips back, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Be sure your knees do not extend past your toes.
- As you come back up keep your weight in your heels; you can even tap your toes slightly to make sure your weight is distributed correctly.
- Continue to repeat this for about 12-15 reps.
#2 - Front Goblet Squat with Weight
You don’t need fancy equipment or heavy weights to take your squats to the next level and increase your strength. Simply adding a kettlebell, dumbbell, or barbell can produce desired results. A study even found that weighted squats are more effective than leg presses for increasing athletic performance and strength training.
When adding weight to your squat, start light, consider adding a weight that you can complete at least 10 reps with to help prevent injury. Keep in mind that when you add a weight you are using more muscles in the upper body as well as the lower body so be sure you are balanced before squatting. You can order kettlebells or dumbbells from Amazon or buy them at Target. I suggest starting with a 15 lb weight and see how that goes. Add weight if and when that feels very doable. You want your weight to feel a little challenging after you get the hang of the movement.
- Hold the weight (kettlebell or dumbbell) close to your upper chest like you are holding a large goblet.
- Feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart and toes are pointed slightly outward.
- Keep your chest and head up.
- Bend your knees and sit backward (think of a chair behind you).
- Stand back up keeping your weight on your heels. Repeat for about 10-12 reps.
#3 - The TRX® Squat
TRX Suspension Trainers™ is a total body resistance exercise piece of equipment and is great to slightly up the intensity of your basic squat. It can help you achieve better form and also activates your core while doing practically any exercise with it. As a result, it will help increase your balance, strength, and core and joint stability. A recent study found that adding TRX training to your exercise routine can increase strength, balance, flexibility and decrease body fat percentage.
- Begin in the same position for the body weight squat with the TRX loops in both hands.
- Keep your feet rooted to the ground with weight in your heels.
- Squat down and back to where hip crease is at or below the knees. Your arms will extend.
- Push through your heels, and rise up with hip and shoulders together. Your arms will bend and return to your sides. Resist the urge to pull yourself up and push with your legs instead. The straps help guide the movement and support you as you build your strength and stability.
- Repeat for about 12-15 reps.
For all the exercises you can do on a TRX®, it is well worth the price of around $150. I absolutely love how small it is to store and the 1 year subscription to the app you get when you buy the system from TRX® directly. There's a lot of bad knock-offs so make sure you buy it directly from the company TRX® HERE.
I hope this helps change your mind about why squats are so important for women and gives you 3 ways to do them at home. If you try this out and share about it, please tag me at @JBraddockRD on Instagram or @MakeHealthyEasy on Facebook.
Go forth and squat!