Fit Focus: My Favorite Leg Exercises – Squats

Hey! How’s your Friday so far?

Things are going pretty bueno over here in Las Moras. When this posts I will have finished making two loaves of banana bread with my neighbor’s bananas and taken them over to her and her family. I’ll say something like, “nel nihmishchiwíl omi pan de planta.” Which loosely translates to “I made you two banana breads.” Yep…that’s my Friday. Bring on the weekend.

For the next couple weeks I thought I’d write about some of my favorite ways to workout my legs for the Friday Fit Focus posts. I hope they give you new ideas to add to your workout routine.

One of the most effective exercises I use in my leg routine is the squat. 

The squat is not only a leg exercise, but it builds total body strength and awareness as well. Beyond that, practicing squats is functional for your everyday life. If you learn to do them well, the squat will serve to keep you strong, mobile,  and injury free as you perform simple daily tasks. Like lifting 5 gallon jugs of water to pour in your sink to do dishes, that is something I do every.single.day.

The squat builds leg strength. In turn, it also builds flexibility in your hips, and ankles and improves overall mobility and total body balance as your core is also engaged when you perform squats. As you get older, (we all are), mobility, flexibility, and balance are key to staying healthy and able to keep doing all the things in life that you enjoy. Plus it has been shown that by doing squats you improve your ability to jump higher and run faster. Which is essential for athletes, also extremely essential to Mom’s who spend their days chasing after toddlers.

A simple online search will give you all kinds of ideas on the different types of squats that you can incorporate into your leg workout routine. Here are some of my favorites:

Basic Squat – also w/stability ball & weighted

– Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and turn your toes out slightly. Holding your arms out in front of you lower yourself down and back like you are going to sit in a chair. Look straight ahead. Your legs should be parallel to the floor. Make sure you do not let your knees come out over your toes. Once you reach parallel, push through your heels and come back up to a standing position.

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Squat

– You can also practice this with a stability placed in between a wall and the small of your back. As you squat, you will practice the same motion and the ball will slowly roll up your spine, and the back down to it’s starting position as you come out of the squat.

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Goblet Squat – try without weight first

– Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and your feet turned out slightly. Hold a dumbbell in front of your chest like a goblet. As you squat down concentrate on putting your elbows on the muscle just inside your knees, keep your chest up and straight, and drop you butt back and down. The goal is to get your hip crease to a lower level than your knees, while keeping your back straight and chest up. Push through your heels to raise yourself out of the squat to a stand. *Do not forget to breathe, it is super important in this exercise.

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Plie Squat

– Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart and your feet turned out slightly. Hold a dumbbell in both hands in front of you. Lower yourself into a sitting position until your thighs are parallel to the floor, butt back and chest up straight. Press through your feet and push your hips slightly forward squeezing your glutes as you come back to the starting position.

Plie front view close

Split Squat

– Start with one foot up on a chair and the other out in front of you as shown below. Holding your weights in both hands.

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Squat down as low as you can, make sure you knee does come out over your toes. And pushing through your heel come back to the start. Make sure you switch legs and complete the split squats on the other leg as well.

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Jump Squat

– Start in your basic squat position. Squat down as low as you can and pushing through your heels explode up into a jump. Make sure you land on soft knees when you come down.

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Squat Thruster

– Grab a pair of light weights and stand in your basic squat stance holding the weights in front of your shoulders as shown below. Squat down, keeping your chest up, back straight, and thighs parallel to the floor. At the bottom of the squat explode through your heels pushing quickly up to a stand and pushing the weights straight up in the air into an overhead press position. (Use the momentum of your legs to push the weights overhead, not your arms.)

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These are some of my favorite ways to squat, and I incorporate these exercises into my leg workouts often. If you are looking for some workouts to try, check my workouts page under the “legs” tab.

Hope you have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend! We are having a little late 4th of July partay over here at the Hypki casa tonight. Should be a good time.

What is your all time favorite leg exercise? What other versions of the squat do you do?

~ Liesl

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