It has been said that squats are the king of all exercises. You will work more muscles than any other exercises when performing a squat.
If your goal is to build and sculpt lean muscle, firm up your thighs and butt, and strengthen your entire body including your core, then what are you waiting for? Start squatting!
Ready Set Squat
Start with a loaded bar, which should be just below your shoulder height on a squat rack. Grasp the bar with palms facing down and a wide grip, and duck your head under the bar so that it’s resting comfortably across your shoulders. Step forward, placing your feet shoulder width apart directly below the bar. With your back arched slightly, press up from your thighs and butt, straightening your legs (keep your knees slightly bent) and lifting the bar off the rack. Step back from the rack to the starting position: shoulders back, lower back slightly arched, and your feet shoulder width apart and flat on the floor. Inhale as you bend at the knees and hips, slowly lowering your butt back and behind you until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you slowly press back up to the starting position.
The bar should rest behind your neck not on it –that is, its weight should be on your shoulders. As you lower the weight, move your knees forward toward, but not past, your toes. As you drop your butt back, keep your shoulders up and squarely over your feet. Look straight ahead, not down. The bar should move straight up and down, not forward or back. Maintain a slight arch in your lower back throughout the move, but don’t use your back to lift the weigh, use only your legs and butt. To avoid injury your knees, your thighs should never drop below horizontal.
For greater safety, or just to practice the squat motion, try a Smith machine squat: Follow the same motion and form with a Smith machine instead of a regular barbell. This will guarantee that the bar moves only straight up and down. If you have weak or injury-prone knees, try a half squat using either a barbell or a Smith machine. Follow the same motion and form, but don’t drop your butt all the way down to the point that your thighs are parallel to the floor. You should do half squats extra slowly to increase your time under tension and to compensate for the decreased range of motion.