Jessica Biel wowed us with her pre- Emmy pistol squats – an incredible one-legged feat that uses your own body weight to build power and stability – with a dumbbell front raise thrown in for good measure! Kim Kardashian posted her workout to Instagram with the caption, ‘Squats: We’re working on depth’. It seems squats are everywhere right now and enjoying a celebrated Hollywood moment, but it should come as no surprise that this workout staple is a part of so many A-listers’ exercise routines.
A basic element of weight training, squats work the thigh, hip, buttock, quad and hamstring muscles, while at the same time building our bones, ligaments and core strength.
Performed with or without weights, as Kim recognises, when it comes to squats, perfect form is far more important than hammering out hundreds of poorly delivered reps.
Fitness experts say that to learn how to squat properly, we need to study toddlers who are learning to walk – the flow between the first tentative steps to a sudden drop invariably includes an innate squat.
For adults, the move may feel less natural but should involve multiple muscle groups and joints. Your hips should push back, your torso move down and your knees shift forward and sideways in a flowing movement. Key to good form is keeping our torso upright, back straight, knees above toes, dropping the hips below knee height and retaining weight in our heels. If you are racking up a large number effortlessly, it’s worth slowing things down and checking your form.
Practice makes perfect, and Kim’s slowly, slowly approach to increase depth is achieved by building strength to have complete control of your ankles, knees and hips. Deep squats see the hips dip below the knees, helping to develop greater muscle mass. Even basic squats can help to burn fat, tone your legs and rear, making them a superstar addition to your workout.
5 Squats To Drop
- Plie Squat: Stand with your legs wide apart and drop your regular squat. Sounds simple, but this extra overlay will work your inner thighs and challenge your core as you try to maintain your balance.
- Squat Jacks: With or without hand weights, drop into a squat and as you stand back up to full height, jump up to add cardio to the exercise. Take a break after ten reps to regain your heart rate.
- Squat & Punch: With hand weights, perform a squat – as you rise to standing, punch one arm forwards followed by the other, returning each towards your chest. Using your lower and upper body this is a great full-body toner.
- Bulgarian Squat: Starting with one leg bent at the knee resting on a chair or bench, lower your body on your single leg and push back up to return to standing. Fantastic for toning your rear.
- Pistol Squat: Once you have mastered your moves, pull out the pistol squat as part of your exercise routine. Hold one leg in front of you, lower yourself to the ground while maintaining your balance before returning to standing.