Want to look and feel better in your bathing suit, LBD and skinny jeans? Adding squats to your workouts is one of the easiest and fastest ways to shape your butt. And when done right, squats also blast your quads, hamstrings and core and are a major calorie burner.
“I always include some type of squat in every workout to strengthen and tone the glutes and legs,” says Mark Vendramini, a Toronto personal trainer and co-owner of Bootcamp University.
According to Vendramini, excellent technique is the key to seeing results, and it can take time to get it right. Though squats look simple, it takes some of his clients several sessions to develop great form. “Instead of just bending your knees, shift your weight into your heels and reach way back with your hips,” he says. Keep your chest lifted through the entire movement (imagine you don’t want someone checking out your cleavage), and don’t let your knees roll in or out.
Follow these step-by-step instructions for the perfect squat
Standard version: Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. Shift your weight back into your heels and tighten your core. Keeping your chest lifted and eyes straight ahead, lower your hips down and back aiming them for an invisible chair that’s set back just a little too far. Keep your knees driving over your second toes, and go no lower than thighs parallel to the ground. Press down into your heels to return to a standing position.
Easier version: Place a pillow (or two) on a chair, and squat down until your butt lightly touches it. Return to the start position. Or stand with your back about one foot length away from a wall, and squat until your butt lightly touches the wall.
Easiest version: Sit on a large exercise ball with your feet hip-width apart. Bounce up and down, and on every third or fourth bounce shift your weight forward into a squat position with your hips a few inches off the ball.
Harder version: Hold dumbbells in each hand as you squat. If you like, add a biceps curl or a lateral raise after each repetition.
Choose the version that’s best for you, and try two or three sets of 10 repetitions on alternating days gradually increasing the number of repetitions. If your butt and thighs aren’t burning at the end, move up to a harder version or heavier weights.
Barb Gormley is a certified personal trainer and a freelance health and fitness writer. You can contact her at www.barbgormley.com.