Master the Basic Squat
The squat is, quite possibly, the most functional exercise around. Why? Because we all do it every single day, usually more times than we can count. This is true for exercisers and non-exercisers alike. Every time you lower and lift yourself from a chair, you do a squat. This may be so easy for you now that you don’t think twice about it, for others however, it’s a serious challenge.
This is exactly why practicing squats on a regular basis is SO important — you don’t want to be the person who needs help getting off the toilet. I’m not trying to offend anyone, but I want to do everything in my power to make sure we all get to be as self-sufficient as possible as we age.
Reason number two to squat on a regular basis — to resuscitate our glutes. The sedentary existence many of us take up, means the only job our glutes have is to cushion our tailbones from our chairs. This is not what these large powerful muscles were designed for. The glute muscles are our primary hip extensors, but when we sit with our hips in a constant state of flexion, the glutes shut off and forget their job. Squatting daily will keep them awake and help keep things from getting saggy back there.
When you think of a squat, what comes to mind? Perhaps a large man lifting several hundred pounds as his veins and eyes bulge. Yes, that is indeed a squat. However, standing in your living room moving up and down is also a squat — for now, we’ll stick with the latter.
How to Squat
If you’ve ever had the privilege of relieving yourself in the great outdoors, you probably already have a pretty good idea how to squat (at least for your shoes’ sake, I hope so). But for those of you who don’t know, here we go:
- Take a shoulder-width stance with your feet pointing in the same direction as your knee caps.
- Place most of your weight onto your heels.
- Brace your core (like someone is about to sock you in the gut), straighten your spine and look straight ahead.
- Slowly lower into a squat (pretend you’re sitting into a chair) as deep as you comfortably can without breaking form — ideally at least until your thighs reach parallel. Breaking form includes: falling forward or backward; your back rounding forward; your knees collapsing inward or outward.
- Squeeze with your glutes to press your hips forward and lift up out of the squat.
- Keep your weight in your heels during the entirety of the movement and maintain a flat back.
*If you’re concerned about falling, practice sitting and rising from an actual chair. Lower down until your bum makes contact, squeeze your glutes and return to standing.
For an extra challenge, drop it low and keep it low. Maintaining a squat position is fabulous for the hips! I like to squat while I work on my computer — it keeps my body engaged even when I’m not moving.
That wasn’t so bad, was it? Try for 50-100 of those every day and you’ll be using the toilet solo for years to come (and keeping your shoes dry in the woods, ladies).
Photos used with permission from 123rf.com.