THE PROACTIVE, PRACTICAL AND PERFECT SQUAT!
The proactive, practical and perfect squat, is the first in a number of posts regarding the MOST beneficial calisthenic exercises. Proactive exercises keeps your muscles moving well, they prevent issues down the road. Practical movement increases ease of mobility in life! Being proactive and practical will help you maintain the health and wellness, of both your body and your mind! The squat has so many variations, it is great for both the beginner and the advanced exerciser! When we are kids squatting is easy, as we are really flexible. Not so much, as we grow up!
When you perform a squat, the muscles of your lower body are put to work. This includes the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The ABDOMINAL muscles are also in play. A squat performed carefully, safely and THOUGHTFULLY, is a whole body exercise! I emphasis THOUGHTFULLY and teach connecting your mind to the muscle, as another way to enhance your movement.
Care and safety are paramount. With a squat, as with any calisthenic exercise, the way to protect your body from injury is with good form and thoughtful movement. Placing your feet correctly, and performing the movement properly, will aid you in safe muscle toning and indeed building.
All squats begin with a tight firm body, standing tall, feet about hip distance apart for a standard squat (move them to comfortable spot for you), then your bum is shifted back AND your knees should not move forward much, if at all! If you have never done a squat before, GRAB A CHAIR! The chair is the best teaching tool.
The next step, once you learn this form, would be to remove the chair and be able to perform a basic squat, while keeping your knees directly over your ankles, as seen in the second photo and the photo below. If you have knee problems, wall squats are also a good way to protect them. Stand about 12 inches from a wall, back towards the wall, move your bum down into the squat and use the wall to support your back and keep your knees from protruding too far forward, as you do repeats. Really push through your heels to move your body back up to standing.
The variations are endless and Healthline.com has an excellent article called 45 Squat Variations to Keep You On Your Toes. I am going to share with you a few that are the natural progression, once basic free-standing squats are becoming easier for you.
You can use variations of the the proactive, practical and perfect squat, to increase the difficulty of the movement and work your muscles differently. The more you learn to use variations, the more your muscles will respond with increased strength and endurance. When I was training, once a client was able to do a free-standing basic squat, we would move onto what I call a wide-based squat. Also called a plie squat, it will take you a little deeper into the squatting position. The wide-based squat would progress to a pulsing wide-based squat and lastly, we would do moving wide-based squats.
The PROACTIVE, PRACTICAL AND PERFECT squat is performed safely!! Read What You Need To Know About Muscles and How To Be Your Own Personal Trainer to understand muscles and safe movement practices. I really like the idea of working exercises like squats, into your every day life. ALL LIFTING should start in the squat position, to protect your back. Bending over and lifting something up, is a sure way to hurt yourself. Bend at the knees, tighten your abs, maintain good posture AND THEN LIFT through your heels!
In fact, adding something to LIFT to your squat, is another way to increase the workout!
You can build your own calisthenics workout or you can work movements into your daily life, as suggested in Opportunistic Stretching For Practical Fitness. When you sit to eat, perform a few squats and do a few more when you get up! When you bend to pick something up off of the floor, perform a few squats. Short bursts of exercise, go a long way to improve your fitness. You can be proactive and practical with your squats and if you perform them safely, they are the PERFECT exercise for your lower body!
Also read Are Calisthenics Old Fashioned or Timely?