How to Do a Proper Squat

Somebody asked me the other day, what day was it in the gym?  If you know me at all, you know that at least three days a week I start my day at the gym with my trainer Leigh.  So what the question really was, was “ what muscle group were you working today?”

 Generally each day at the gym is dedicated to a certain muscle group; back and chest, arms and shoulders, bicep/ triceps, a whole body day, or leg day.  But my trainer has the attitude that everyday in some regard is leg day, ugh.  

Actually there is a really good reason for that.  Although focusing on a certain muscle group is really good for you for a few reasons, everyday leg day has a good reason too.  When you focus on a particular muscle group you can do just that, focus on that particular body part.  When focusing on a specific group, you really get the most out of each movement.  You feel that muscle move and you really know when you are working it rather than using other muscles to compensate for weakness.  It also allows your muscles to rest and recover which allows for a lesser chance of doing damage and injury.  This also applies to legs.  We do have dedicated leg days.

Each and every day has legs involved because it is your largest muscle group.  If you are looking to get your metabolism charged up for a workout, start with legs.  I am not talking complicated leg exercises, but get those major muscle groups working.  The easiest way to do that is squats.

Squats are a basic in our gym.  We do them in some form or another each and every workout.  It gets my body warmed up fast, starts the heart pumping, and gets me ready for whatever is coming.  They don’t have to be complicated, as a matter of fact they are not supposed to be.  If you find yourself watching videos on workouts, squats should be pretty basic with only a few variables.

Ok, what is a squat.  It is what babies do thousands of times a day and the older we get, the less we do.  If you were to stand in front of a chair and start to sit and change your mind halfway down, you just did a squat.  Now do that again, and again, and again.

There are a few things to keep in mind.  Form is really important.  It is not complicated, but it is important.

  • Stand with your feet planted firmly with your weight on the heels and balls of your feet.  Not on your toes.  You should be able to wiggle your toes.
  • Find a spot ahead of you to focus on.  As you begin to squat, you should focus on that spot, don’t be looking down at your knees.
  • Start by bending at the hip.  Think hip, not knees. 
  • Push your bum back as if you were going to sit on the potty and then come up as you realize the toilet seat has been left up.
  • Do your best to lower yourself to a full squat which means your hips are parallel with your knees.

If you are new to squats, use a chair, bench, box, stool to use as a measure of how low to go.  You can go lower if you want, but if you don’t go low enough, you don’t get the full value from them.

Once you have mastered the squat, try doing them each day.  At our gym we have had squat challenges.  Doing them every day, with or without weight for a month.  They should be part of your go-to exercises.

They can be done anywhere and you can even add weights to your hands to make them more difficult.  Doing a squat with your back on the wall also adds a bit of a challenge because the point here is to hold that squat for as long as you can and believe me it is tough to do.

The more you can add body weight movements to your day, the fewer reasons you will have to not get them done in a day. This is one of those that we should all do, especially considering the fact that as we age, we all use the public washrooms more and more.  If our legs are not up to it, one day we may feel that cold splash when we least expect it.

So do your squats.


My mom passed away at 41 from diabetes. And I'm 42, thank you. I didn't want to do that to my son. So any time I was at the gym, that thing that helped me do that last squat was my son calling some other woman mommy. And that would just give me that extra oomph to do that last squat. I want to be around for him. – Sherri Shepherd


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