Body Science: Let’s investigate the “Squat”

Chris Cander helps us understand the science of the squat;

If the gym fairy came to you in a dream and told you that you were only allowed to perform one exercise for the rest of your life, which one would you choose? The squat, of course. It’s considered by experts to be the single best exercise for working the lower body: quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, core stabilizer muscles and glutes <<< YES, I believe it. The Squat is one of my favorite gym workouts!

The squat can be performed in so many different ways that you could choose a different variation each workout and only have to repeat it once a year. Michelle Sharp, an IFPA certified personal trainer and owner of Sharp/Physiques Fitness Studio in Houston, Texas, says that, although the squat incorporates all the muscles of the lower body, you can emphasize the glutes by following some simple guidelines.

“First, placing your feet far in front of your body isolates the glutes,” she says. “Second, always push through the heels of your feet; pushing through the toes shifts the load to your quads. Finally, put your mind where your muscle is. You will work the muscle harder if you concentrate on it.”

 Here are three ways to perform this butt-buster:

ONE: Barbell Squat

“This basic squat incorporates your core as well as your glutes and legs,” says Sharp. Use either a squat rack (the bar alone weighs 45 pounds) or a pre-weighted barbell. Position your feet wider than shoulder-width apart to focus on the glutes and inner thighs, or narrow them to target the glutes and outer thighs. Squat down until your thighs are parallel, keeping your knees aligned with your ankles and toes. Pause for a one count at the bottom, and return to the starting position and squeeze your glutes without locking your knees.


TWO: BOSU squat

Stand with your feet almost together on the “bubble” side and lower your body slowly until your thighs are parallel to the floor. “If you can descend an extra 10 degrees, you’ll really feel it in your glutes,” says Michelle. She suggests varying the move by holding for two seconds at the bottom of the movement and going up on a four count. Go back down on a two-count and power up quickly to the starting position.


and… THREE: jump squat

Begin with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Drop down into a deep squat and power up through your heel and arch to keep the knee stable until you come off the floor. “This targets the glutes on the descent,” says Michelle. “I like to superset this exercise with a weighted squat without resting between sets.



Check out freelance writer Chris Cander, she specializing in the areas of health, fitness, and nutrition

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