Squats are the King of Compound Exercises

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squat2It’s not surprising that our legs contain the largest muscles in the body and need as much if not more exercise than your upper body. After all, our legs support us every moment when we are not in a sitting or lying postion.

Bodyweight leg exercises provide a base of power and stability that you will use in your everyday life. Another great benefit of using bodyweight exercises in your workout routines is you can work your legs out anytime and anywhere…your equipment is your body.

Squats are the perfect bodyweight leg exercise to build a powerful lower body. Compound exercises are the best and most efficient way to build strength and muscle because you engage multiple muscle groups and squats are the king of compound exercises.

Every squat you perform strengthens your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, hips, lower back, and abdominal’s.

There are a variety of different ways to perform a squat:

Bodyweight Squats: These are often called “Air Squats”. Stand behind with your feet shoulder width apart. Point your toes straight forward or slightly out to the side and extend your arms out in front of you or place them behind your head.

Squat down by sinking your rear towards the ground. Keep your weight on your heels and your back as vertical as you can.  Do not bend over at the waist or life your heels up at any points. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

If you are comfortable, go a bit lower. Keeping your weight on your heels, push up with your legs and return to the starting position.

squatjumps1Jump Squats: You use the same starting movements as the bodyweight squats. On the way up explode up and jump as high as you can. As you land from your jump, go right back down into a squat.

Squat to Calf Raises: After rising up from a bodyweight squat, transfer your weight to the balls of your feet and lift up your heels. Hold for a moment before beginning the next repetition.

Uneven Squats: Find a study base 6-12 inches high that you can place on foot on. As you squat down, keep most of your weight on the leg planted to the ground. Uneven bodyweight squats are a great stepping stone to pistols.

pistols1Pistols: Think bodyweight squats are too easy? Then you are ready for pistols, also known as the one-legged squat. Performing even one pistol is a demonstration of superb body control.

Pistols not only require great strength to perform correctly, but they require coordination and balance as well.

To perform a Pistol, lift one foot up and begin squatting down with the other. Keep the airborne leg extended and out to the front. Squat down as low as you can.

Bodyweight squats offer a few more benefits worth mentioning. They are the perfect warm-up to your exercise routine because they are a multi-joint movement that engages a large amount of muscle. If you have a routine that includes Squatting, it’s best to practice the movement prior to handling excess weight.

Even though Bodyweight squats are great low-impact tools, when they are performed correctly, they burn a ton of calories because they recruit a huge amount of muscle mass.

Bodyweight squats are a assessment tools that can be used prior to strength training. By analyzing an individual’s bodyweight squat a good coach or teacher can identify and correct faulty movement patterns.

Not all bodyweight leg exercises involve dynamic movement. These “holds” will test your strength and stability by maintaining challenging body positions for a set amount of time.

Wall Squat: With your back against the wall and your feet about 12 inches away from the wall, slide your body down the wall until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Hold this position, keeping your hands off your thighs.

Single Leg Wall Squat: Starting in a wall squat position, lift one foot up and extend that leg out. Hold this position.

Basketball Shuffle: Perform a bodyweight squat and stay down. Holding that position, begin shuffling in either direction by sliding your feet one at a time. Keep your butt down and your spine vertical the entire time.

It’s hard to beat the bodyweight squat with its countless variations if you want to build an impressive set of lower body and legs muscles. In addition to bodyweight squats, you need to be lifting progressively heavier weight. A gradual increase in demands is what your muscles need.

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