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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 September 4, 2020

          How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast

          How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast

          There’s a lot of confusion, mystery, and desperation around how to lose fat and gain muscle. We applaud body transformation pictures we see on Instagram, Facebook, and magazine covers but are never able to replicate the results ourselves.

          Well, that mystery is over because I will tell you exactly how to achieve those results in this article.

          The journey to getting there is straightforward but not easy. Most people give up too early in the game, when they stop making visible progress.

          Keep reading to learn how to utilize your metabolism and the laws of muscle building to lose fat and gain muscle fast.

          Skyrocket Your Metabolism to Lose Fat

          Learning how to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time is one of the biggest misunderstandings of body transformations because they are opposite metabolic processes.

          To lose fat, you must have calorie deficits each day, and to gain muscle, you must be in a caloric surplus, but you cannot do both at the same time.

          When you look at pictures, it looks like it can be done simultaneously, but what is actually happening is a change in fat and muscle percentages.

          If your weight stays the same through your journey, and you lose body fat, your percent of lean muscle mass automatically goes up by default. You didn’t gain any muscle, but your fat and muscle ratio percentages have shifted.

          Calculating Your Calories to Lose Fat

          There are many good calorie calculators out there that will give you an estimate on how much to eat to start losing fat for weight loss. You usually need to cut about 10 to 15% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calories to start the process.

          You can find a visual explanation of TDEE below[1]:

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          Use TDEE to learn how to lose fat and gain muscle.

            Remember that the calculators are just an estimate. It’s up to you to track your measurements and to adjust your caloric intake to ensure you’re getting the results you’re looking for.

            Metabolism calculators take into account four different ways your body burns calories to come up with your TDEE, or how many calories you burn in a day:

            • Resting metabolic rate
            • Thermic effect of food
            • Thermic effect of activity
            • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

            Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

            This is your baseline metabolism at rest, or how many calories your body needs to survive if you spent the entire day lying in bed awake.

            RMR accounts for about 60 to 75% of your total daily energy expenditure. Your RMR is mostly determined by how much you weigh.

            A heavier person has a higher RMR than a lighter person, even if the lighter person has a higher lean muscle mass, because the metabolism of muscle only contributes to about 20% of your total RMR energy expenditure[2].

            Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

            You’ve heard that to lose weight and gain muscle, you should be eating lots of protein. This is true for a number of reasons:

            • Lowers your intake of other types of foods, like processed carbs.
            • Increases satiety, so you continue to feel fuller, longer.
            • The building blocks for your muscles are found in protein.

            About 30% of the calories from protein intake are burned off during the digestion process, which includes absorption and waste removal of it. Eating more protein as opposed to other macros increases the amount of calories burned during digestion. That’s why you feel fuller with a higher protein diet.

            Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA)

            The calories burned in TEA are relatively minor in your entire TDEE equation. TEA is any calories burned during official exercise, like going to the gym, doing an aerobics class, or going for a run. It covers any exercise you do outside of your normal activities.

            Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

            The calories burned in NEAT is the big game changer for most people and can vary up to 2000 calories burned per day between people with identical RMRs[3].

            For the majority of us, when we’re done with our workouts for the day, we don’t do much else for movement. We spend about an hour in the gym, and instead of using the other 15 hours awake as an opportunity to move and burn more calories, we spend it sitting.

            This is how there can be such a big difference between the amount of calories burned between two people who have the same RMR.

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            Outside of your gym workout, any additional body movements count towards burning additional calories. The quickest way to add this to your day is to make everything you do as inconvenient for yourself as possible.

            Examples of inconvenient activities that count towards NEAT include:

            • Taking the stairs versus the elevator
            • Parking farther away
            • Getting up to change the TV channel versus using the remote
            • Pacing and walking while on a phone call instead of sitting down

            Increasing your NEAT goes a long way to helping your burn calories faster, leading to quicker fat loss. For more ideas on how to make life a little more inconvenient to up your activity level, check out this article.

            The Laws of Building Muscle

            Congrats on reaching the stage where you want to tone and get some definition! Learning how to lose fat and gain muscle isn’t an easy process, so if you’ve taken it on, that’s a huge step.

            To build muscle, first you want to increase your calorie intake.

            Based on your TDEE, you want to add about 10% more calories as a starting point. This is enough calories to build muscle, and any excess can lead to fat storage if you’re not training hard enough or aren’t active enough.

            Again, be sure to track your measurements and adjust your calories if necessary.

            Second, follow a muscle-building program that you can sustain for at least 3 to 6 months.

            Consistency is key with building muscles because they need to be stimulated and broken down on a regular basis in order to build back up. You want to strength train at least twice a week for at least an hour each time to start getting results.

            Of course, more often is better but requires better planning and a more complicated body parts training plan. So, start simple if you’re a novice. It’s not necessary to train 6 times a week unless you’re training for a competition.

            Progressive Overload

            Muscle needs to be challenged in order to grow. You need to gradually and consistently increase the amount of load and volume you are lifting.

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            Load means the amount of weight you’re lifting during weight training. Up to a certain point, it becomes unrealistic to keep adding pounds to each exercise every week, at which point you need to switch exercises and work on your weaker points to break that plateau.

            However, the goal with load is to keep increasing the amount of weight you lift.

            Increasing the volume you do is another method to progressive overload. Volume means the total number of reps for that specific exercise. If you’re doing 3 sets of 12 reps, it means you’ve done a total of 36 reps.

            But increasing volume doesn’t mean doing super high reps of 20+ unless you’re training your muscle for endurance versus strength.

            You want to use a challenging weight and be able to lift more of it each week through increased reps and sets.

            Here is a visual explanation of how you can engage in progressive overload[4]:

            PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD FOR MUSCLE MASS by @jmaxfitness - Visit the link in my bio to claim your free 1-week muscle bu… | Muscle, Gain muscle, Weight training workouts

              Training Intensity

              Paying attention to what you’re doing is required if you want to lose fat and build muscle because you want to build and improve the mind-muscle connection to optimize growth.

              A healthy mind-body connection means you’re able to better feel your muscles working during each lift.

              You know you’ve picked the right weight when the last 2 to 3 reps of your intended rep range is challenging. On occasion, you want to push past the burn and muscle fatigue for the last reps.

              This little bit of pushing past the discomfort is the difference between an average body and a body with more definition. Lifting almost to failure increases muscle recruitment, metabolic stress, and anabolic recruitment to grow muscles.

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              Proper Recovery

              This is the most overlooked aspect of building muscles. We focus too much on pre/post workout meals, macro tweaking, and supplements, forgetting that we already have the ultimate tool for recovery: our own body.

              For best recovery practices, allow at least a day, but no more than 3 days of rest between workouts that stress the same muscle group. Overtraining results in diminished exercise capacity, possible injury, and illness.

              Remember, muscles are broken down in the gym and built outside of it during recovery.

              Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and be mindful of your stress levels to optimize recovery time. A lack of sleep and excess stress will spike cortisol levels, leading to hunger cravings, decrease regulation of burning fat, and cause faster aging.

              You can learn how to lower your stress levels fast here.

              Stop Program Hopping

              Every day, there is new workout, new exercise, new program on a website, in a magazine, or in your social media feed. No wonder we’re tempted to try a little bit of everything!

              Frequent program hopping stops you from getting any results.

              When you change programs too often, you don’t make progress on each exercise. It becomes hard to gauge whether you’re getting stronger or even getting results because you’re not allowing enough time for your body to adapt.

              Strength is a skill that needs to be built and developed by practicing it consistently. If you’re changing the skill set too often, you won’t know if you’re improving, and, therefore, cutting yourself short of future muscle gains.

              Conclusion

              The steps to losing fat and gaining muscle are simple, but the journey to get there is not.

              Tracking and measuring your calories is the quickest way to lose fat, along with increasing your activity level outside of the gym. Having a stronger, more toned body can be yours when you follow the laws of building muscles consistently.

              Applying these methods will guarantee that you get the results you’re after!

              More on How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

              Featured photo credit: Benjamin Klaver via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Cheat Day Design: What is TDEE?
              [2] International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Determinants of energy expenditure and fuel utilization in man: effects of body composition, age, sex, ethnicity and glucose tolerance in 916 subjects
              [3] Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: Variability in energy expenditure and its components
              [4] J Max Fitness: PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD FOR MUSCLE MASS

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