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Complete Beginner’s Guide To Doing Perfect Squats

Complete Beginner’s Guide To Doing Perfect Squats

Squats are one of the most beneficial full-body exercises out there. If you’ve never done a squat before or never achieved the results that you wanted, we’ll show you the rights and wrongs of how to do squats and reap their many benefits.

The Benefits of Doing Squats

Whether you’re looking for a total body workout or just want to gain some strength and muscle, squats are the ultimate exercise. When muscles are placed under a great deal of stress, they release the hormone, testosterone, which is vital to muscle growth. During squats our thigh muscles, which are the biggest and strongest in our bodies, are also the most stressed, allowing the testosterone to widely circulate and contribute to a full-body workout. Squats are also a great exercise to help maintain balance and joint support. The controlled movement helps strengthen the lower body, including ankles, knees, ligaments and tendons, leaving you less susceptible to injury.

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Bodyweight Squat

bodyweight squat
    1. Plant your feet a little wider than your shoulder width with your weight on your heels and the balls of your feet. Keep your knees over your ankles and your hips over your knees.
    2. Take any unnecessary strain off of your back by keeping your spine neutral throughout the movement.
    3. Reach your arms straight out in front of you so they are parallel to the ground with your palms facing down.
    4. Inhale and unlock your hips by gradually bringing them back and send them backwards as your knees bend.
    5. Find a spot in front of you to focus on and keep your back straight with your head and shoulders up.
    6. As your squat deepens, focus on keeping your knees and your feet in line and go as deep as your body allows. Aim to have your hips sink below your knees.
    7. Keep your body tight and engage your core as you push back up through your heels.

    Single Leg Squat

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    one leg squat
      1. Start in the same position as the bodyweight squat, with your feet firmly planted a little more than your shoulder width.
      2. Lift one leg and bend slightly at the knee so your foot is off the ground. If you need extra stability you can hold your raised foot either in front or behind you.
      3. Lower yourself down as far as you comfortably can, using only the leg that is still on the ground, trying not to let your other foot touch the ground.
      4. Return upright without putting your foot down between reps. Use a chair or wall for stability if necessary.

      Eagle Squat

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        1. Start with your feet close together and your hands out at your sides in a T shape.
        2. Lift your right leg over your left and wrap your right foot around the back of your left calf.
        3. Bring your right elbow underneath your left and wrap your right hand around your left forearm so your palms are touching.
        4. Gain your balance and squat as low as your body allows without falling and return upright.

        Sumo Squat

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        sumo
          1. Plant your feet with your legs wider than your shoulders and toes pointed slightly outward.
          2. Keep your hips pushed back and bend at the knees. Squat until your thighs are in line with your knees.
          3. Return upright, or do several short pulses when you reach the bottom for an extra workout.

          Common Mistakes

          Poor form when doing squats not only squanders the benefits of the exercise to your body, but can also cause undue stress and injury to your knees and back. Here are some tips on how to do squats safely and efficiently for best results.

          Your knees fall past your toes

          This is an easy mistake for a beginner to make because it’s all about muscle memory. When your knees go beyond your toes you put more stress on the joints and leave yourself vulnerable to injury and strain. Try to keep your knees in line with your toes, not extending more than a couple centimeters in front.

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          Your back and shoulders are too relaxed

          Rounding your back is a common mistake for beginners. When your back is straight and your spine is neutral it is easier to maintain control and get the best out of your workout. If you find that your back is too relaxed pull your shoulder blades down and together to engage your core.

          You do not squat deep enough

          Many people believe that squatting too deep can cause injury to your knees. It actually makes for a better workout for your glutes and can even strengthen your knees. Try to squat as low as you comfortably can, aiming to have the top of your thigh just below your knee.

          You only squat once a week

          It’s easy to get frustrated when you don’t see results right away, but the key to squats is perseverance. Squats are very efficient in conditioning muscles and need to be frequently used for any sculpting to take place. Try to squat at least two to three times a week using different variations to work different muscle groups.

          Featured photo credit: antoniodiaz via shutterstock.com

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          Last Updated on February 18, 2019

          8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

          8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

          When people think of cardio, usually a boring treadmill, elliptical machine, or other mundane activity comes to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

          When you’re short on time or easily distracted, there are a variety of fat-burning cardio alternatives that will increase your body’s metabolism, boost weight loss, and keep you interested.

          Here’s a list of different types of cardio workouts:

          • Steady State (Burns less fat, but isn’t as demanding on the body)
          • Interval Training (Burns more fat)
          • HIIT
          • Spinning
          • Stairs
          • Weight Training (Supersets) short rest periods
          • Weight Training (Compound Sets) short rest periods
          • Machine Circuit Training

          And I’m going to talk about each of them in detail:

          1. Steady State

          Steady state cardio involves working at a low to moderate intensity — around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, for a sustained period of time. This type of cardio doesn’t burn a huge number of calories, but it does burn a high percentage of fat tissue for fuel, and it isn’t too draining.

          An example of steady state cardio would be a long outdoor walk at a moderate pace. Interval training, on the other hand, is much more intense.

          2. Interval Training

          Similar to HIIT but with exercises that are slightly longer in duration, interval training alternates levels of intensity. For example, if you enjoy running, you would run or sprint for 30 seconds, then bring down your heart rate and walk for two minutes.

          Pick two intensities per interval, usually one at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and the other at 60 percent, and alternate between them. I find that 85% for 30 seconds and 60% for one minute, not only burns more calories but increases my energy level as well.

          Another example would be jumping rope. Jump rope for two minutes, rest for one minute. Begin again, this time jumping rope for one minute and resting for one minute. On the third and final round, jump rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat five sets of this routine.

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          3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

          Have a busy schedule? Fifteen minutes a few times a week is all you need. HIIT is an extremely popular workout because it can be done quickly, burn calories in a short amount of time, and can even be done in your home or during a lunch break at work. And the best part – You don’t need any equipment.

          With the use of your body weight, HIIT is typically 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest which means your heart rate remains elevated for the entire 15-minute workout.

          Check out this HIIT routine by Fitness Blender: 15 Minute HIIT Workout

          4. Spinning

          Spinning is a great way to get your heart up and keep it up in a 45-minute spin class. Our thighs and back are our largest muscles so they work the hardest.

          To get the most out of spinning, try to stay out of the saddle throughout an entire spin class. That way, you are forced to hold up your body weight which burns more calories and increases intensity.

          It’s also great for stabilizing and building strong core muscles, versus cycling outdoors, where most of the time you are sitting in the saddle and going for distance (steady-state cardio).

          5. Stairs

          One of my favorite places to get out of the gym for cardio and trim fat from my thighs and butt is the Santa Monica Stairs, near California’s most popular beach. Climbing 170 steps a few times builds the glutes, leans the thighs, strengthens the calves, and builds endurance.

          So, if the gym is not your scene and you love the outdoors, climbing stairs is a great alternative. Find a place with multiple steps, do six or seven rounds, and you’ve easily burned around 600 calories.

          6. Supersets

          A superset is two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, or different body parts such as the lower and upper body with little to no recovery between sets.

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          The superset may include two to five sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise or more.[1]

          So, if you love to workout with weight-training but aren’t really feeling cardio, supersets with no more than 30-second rest periods between exercises will keep your heart rate up. Not only will you build muscle, you will burn fat!

          For example, say you are doing a leg workout, five sets of exercises with high reps and low weight is all it takes to turn your weight-training into a cardio workout.

          Here’s one of my leg training workouts:

          i. Dumbbell Step-Ups on a secure bench or box (4×15, each leg)

          ii. Front Squat (4×15)

          iii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet (4×15)

          iv. Leg Extension (4×15)

          v. Leg Curl (4×15)

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            Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

            vi. Front Squat


              Photo Credit: Stack

              vii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet Squat

              viii. Leg Extension

              ix. Leg Curl

                Photo Credit: T Nation

                7. Compound Sets

                Compound exercises are exercises that recruit muscles in the entire body, such as pull-ups, squats, bench press, etc. However, a compound set simply means to “compound” the number of different exercises into a series of sets with little or no recovery between, similar to supersets.

                  This may be accomplished by performing four to five exercises for the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or total body exercises performed in succession such as full body extensions, followed by squat/cleans and complete the compound set of compound exercises with lunges with biceps curls.

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                  Compound sets put stress on the body and are great for expending additional calories while strength-training.

                  8. Machine Weight Training Circuit

                  Like compound exercises, a machine circuit workout targets the entire body, upper body, lower body, or core. The difference is, with the use of machines instead of free weights, muscle strength is increased by by making your muscles work against weight.[2] By limiting rest periods between exercises to 30 seconds, your metabolism will go into over-drive!

                  Machines also give you better control over the exercises, which decreases risk of injury.

                  Here’s a machine circuit training example: Muscle and Strength Machine Workout

                  The Bottom Line

                  The above-mentioned workouts should be completed within 30 minutes, unless you’re taking a class which is typically 45 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get on with the rest of your day.

                  By keeping your rest periods to a minimum between exercises, your heart rate will stay elevated and you will burn more calories, get lean, and have more energy.

                  Don’t be a gym rat, spending unnecessary time doing lengthy workouts that give you minimum results. For efficient weight loss, perform these workouts three times a week and watch the fat melt away while achieving your fitness goals.

                  More Resources About Weight Loss

                  Featured photo credit: Spencer Dahl via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Mountain Life Fitness: Super sets, compound sets and giant sets
                  [2] Better Health Channel: Resistance training – health benefits

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