If you ever sweat along with an exercise DVD or tried out a fitness class at your local gym, you are likely familiar with the squat.
One of the most popular and effective toning moves for the lower body, the squat is a simple and easily modified exercise appropriate for all fitness levels. If you would like to add some intensity to your basic squat routine, try including the following progressions:
Begin with the basic squat: Standing with feet shoulder width apart, arms by your side and chest lifted, lower your seat back and down so that your knees line up with your hips and your ankles line up with your knees. Then just stand right back up to your standing position. That's it. Complete 10-12 basic squats before adding on.
Progression #1: Add weights and hold them at shoulder height throughout your squats. Complete 10-12 weighted squats before adding on.
Progression #2: Once lowered into your squat position, press your weights overhead while your palms are facing one another. Then bring the weights back down to shoulder height before raising up out of your squat and returning to a standing position. Complete 10-12 overhead press squats before adding on.
Progression #3: Once lowered into your squat, and after completing your overhead press, drop your hands to the floor and extend the feet back into a wide plank by stepping or jumping back. Pull one weight up off the floor in a rowing motion before returning it to the ground. (Be sure to keep both hips pointed toward the floor.) Then complete the row on the other side before jumping or stepping the feet back to your hands, raising up and lifting out of your squat back into your standing position. Complete 10-12 overhead press/plank/row squats before adding on.
Progression #4: After lifting up out of your plank/row squat, add a front kick with the left leg, squat back down, lift up and add a front kick with the right leg. This is the final addition to your squat series. Take your time and perform each movement slowly and deliberately, concentrating on your breathing and proper form.
Adding these progressions will transform the squat from an exercise that primarily works the quadricep muscles (those in the front of the thigh) to one that strengthens the , shoulders, , back, and glutes. You can adjust these squats to suit your fitness level and preference. You can add moves, take some away, or try a different order.
I hope you enjoy playing around with the oh-so-versatile squat!