If you're a woman who wants to have toned, strong legs and a firm butt, then the squat may be your new best friend. When performed correctly, this exercise can effectively help you accomplish it all. The squat is a compound exercise, which means the movement works more than just one muscle group. While performing squats will target your entire leg, as well as the buttocks and abs, there are some negative effects to consider before you get started.
1. Back Injuries
Among the injuries that can occur from squats are those of the lower back, or lumbar. These occur when you lean too far forward during the movement, placing extra stress on the lower back. When performing the squat, keep your back straight and position your chest so that it does not extend too far forward during the movement. If your chest comes past your knees, you are leaning too far forward.
2. Knee Injuries
Knee injuries can occur when the knees come past the toes during the squat. When this occurs, greater stress is placed on the knee joints and can cause the knees to buckle under the stress during the movement. Due to the excess tension in the knees you may also risk soreness. When doing squats, avoid a knock-kneed and bow-legged stance. Both of these can cause extra stress not only on the knees but the rest of the pelvic hip region. To lower the risk of injury when performing squats, the knees should be shoulder-width apart; when lowering into the squat, the knees should not extend past the toes.
3. It Takes Practice
Unlike many other exercises, properly performing squats requires a bit of practice first. Good form and technique are musts for reducing injury risks. Performing the squat movement in front of a mirror will allow you to view your form and help you to pinpoint where adjustments need to be made. Another good way to practice the technique is to place a chair or bench under you, then raise and lower yourself, paying attention to your knees and how far your chest comes forward. Consult a fitness expert for guidance if you aren't sure about your form.
4. Adding Variety
Once you have become familiar and comfortable with the squat, you can easily tailor the exercise to suit your specific goals. By holding a set of dumbbells at your side while squatting, you will be working mostly the front of your legs, quadriceps and your glutes. If you want to focus on your inner thighs, you can space your feet further than shoulder-width apart and point your toes out.