How To Do Squats Properly – A Step-By-Step Guide

Reviewed by Dr. Sudhansu Singh, BPT
Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Squats are great for shaping and toning your glutes and thighs. But how to do squats properly? Without the proper form, you can hurt your back and knees. Squats are compound movements that target major muscle groups. They help strengthen the glutes, core, calves, quads, hamstrings, adductors, and lower back. Not squatting the right way is a common mistake by beginners. Therefore, it is best to understand how to squat step-by-step to prevent any injury. Read on to see images and learn how to squat and master it quickly. Also, learn a few other modified squats to help you lose weight from the lower body, strengthen, and tone up. Scroll down!

The Beginner’s Guide To A Perfect Squat

Things You Need To Squat

  • Comfortable clothes
  • Training shoes
  • Headband and/or hair band

How To Squat Properly

Step 1: Starting Position

Stand tall, with your back straight, feet a little more than hip-width apart and in a straight line, toes pointing slightly out (about 5-20 degrees), shoulders relaxed, and chest lifted. Look straight, with the arms extended in front of you, and squeeze your glutes so that your pelvic region is in symmetry with the imaginary straight line drawn from your left foot to the right.

Step 2: Start Squatting

Look straight ahead, keep your back straight, and engage your core. Inhale, push your buttocks out, and start bending your knees. Your weight should be on your heels and NOT on your toes.

Step 3: Full Squat

Push your buttocks out and look straight ahead. Sit down with your body weight on your heels. Your knees should not overshoot your toes. Go down until your hip joints are lower than your knees. Yes, this is the correct full squat. If your hip joints are not below the level of your knees, it’s a partial squat.

Step 4: Hold

Keep your arms in front of you or grasp your right wrist with your left hand, and look straight. Make sure your pelvic region is in alignment with the toes, and your knees are not overshooting the toes. Your hips need to be pushed back, core tight, and glutes squeezed. Hold this pose for 3 seconds.

Step 5: Getting Back Up

Exhale and start getting back up. Keep the body weight on your heels, shoulders pinched backward, and chest up. Push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes. Keep your legs straight.

Step 6: Repeat

Again, inhale and go down to the squat position. Hold for 3 seconds, and come back up.

Tip: Be slow when you are learning how to squat. There’s no hurry. Squatting correctly is more important than doing 3 sets of 30 squats.

So, you see, squatting is not rocket science. You just need to be patient, observant, and open to unlearn the wrong squatting technique that you were following. Now, before we move on, I would like to introduce you to the advanced level of squats. You can do these exercises as part of your full body exercise routine, but make sure you do them correctly.

8 Squats For Full Body To Burn Calories

1. Pulse Squat

Shutter stock

Target

Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, adductors, and core.

Duration – 7 mins

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointing out, shoulders pinched back, chest forward, and hands in front of you.
  2. Inhale and push your hips out and squat down and keep your body weight on your heels. Make sure your hip joints are a little lower than your knees, and your knees do not overshoot your toes.
  3. Now, instead of coming back up, pulse in the squatting pose – go up and down at frequent intervals.
  4. Pulse and count to 10.
  5. Exhale and slowly get back up to the starting position.
  6. Do 2 sets of 5 reps. Increase the reps and sets as you advance.

2. Explosive Squat

Shutter stock

Target

Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, adductors, core, lats, biceps, and neck muscles.

Duration – 7 mins

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly pointing out, shoulders pinched back, chest forward, and hands in front of you.
  2. Inhale and push your hips out and squat down. Keep your body weight on your heels. Make sure your hip joints are a little lower than your knees, and your knees do not overshoot your toes.
  3. Now, get back up from the squatting position and before you fully stand up, propel your body into a jump. Simultaneously, lower your hands to the sides to help propel your body up.
  4. Land softly on your feet, move your hands from the side to the front, bend your knees a little, and go down to a squat pose again.
  5. Do 2 sets of 10 reps. Increase the reps and sets as you advance.

3. Squat Jump Forward And Back

Shutter stock

Target

Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, adductors, chest, and core.

Duration – 10 mins

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly pointing out, shoulders pinched back, and chest forward. Clasp both the hands together, and keep the elbows slightly bent.
  2. Inhale and push your hips out and squat down, keeping your body weight on your heels. Make sure your hip joints are a little lower than your knees, and your knees do not overshoot your toes.
  3. Get back up from the squat pose and squeeze your glutes.
  4. Jump forward and back, keeping your legs in the same stance and toes pointing out. Make sure to land smoothly on your feet.
  5. Once you have jumped forward and back, inhale and squat again.
  6. Do 2 sets of 10 reps. Increase the reps and sets as you advance.

4. Plie/Sumo Squats

Shutter stock

Target

Adductors, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, core, and back.

Duration – 5 mins

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out (45 degrees), shoulders pinched back, and chest forward. Clasp both the hands together, and keep the elbows slightly bent.
  2. Inhale, push your hips out and squat down, and keep your body weight on your heels. Make sure your hip joints are a little lower than your knees, and your knees do not overshoot your toes.
  3. Hold this pose for 2 seconds.
  4. Exhale and get back up to the starting position.
  5. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
  6. As you advance, you can also do explosive plie/sumo squats or use a kettlebell to make it little more challenging.

5. Squat With Bicep Curls

Target

Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, adductors, chest, core, back, biceps, shoulders, and wrist extensors and flexors.

Duration – 7 mins

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly pointing out, shoulders pinched back, chest forward, and elbows slightly bent.
  2. Hold 5.5-pound dumbbells in your hands. Bring your elbows close to the torso. Your palms must face forward, and hands must lie by the sides of your body.
  3. Inhale and push your hips out and squat down. Keep your body weight on your heels. Make sure your hip joints are a little lower than your knees, and your knees do not overshoot your toes. As you continue to do squats with weights, lift your forearm until the dumbbells almost touch your shoulders. Remember to keep your upper arms stationary.
  4. Hold this pose for 1 second.
  5. Exhale, get back up, lower your forearm and come back to the starting position.
  6. Do 3 sets of 10 reps. Increase the reps, sets, and weight as you advance.

6. Squat With Overhead Press

Target

Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, adductors, chest, core, back, biceps, shoulders, and lats.

Duration – 10 mins

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointing out, shoulders pinched back, chest forward, and hold 5.5- pound dumbbells with your arms lifted and leveled with your shoulders. Your forearms should be at a right angle with the upper arms.
  2. Inhale and push your hips out and squat down, keeping your body weight on your heels. Make sure your hip joints are a little lower than your knees, and your knees do not overshoot your toes. As you squat, extend your arms up and directly above your head.
  3. Now, exhale and slowly get up from the squat pose, flex your elbows, and bring your arms back to the starting position.
  4. Do 2 sets of 10 reps. Increase the reps, sets, and weight as you advance.

7. Barbell Sumo Squat

Shutter stock

Target

Shoulders, glutes, lats, lower back, abs, quads, chest, triceps, biceps, hamstrings, calves, adductors, hip flexors, wrist flexors and extensors.

Duration – 10 mins

Steps

  1. Position yourself inside a squat rack. Load the bar with weights on either side while it is still on the rack. Now, step under it and place it across the back of the shoulders, slightly below the rear deltoids. Hold the bar with your hands, palms facing forward and elbows close to your torso.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades and rotate your elbows forward. Position your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and squeeze your glutes. Your chest must be out, spine neutral, knees slightly bent, and toes pointing out.
  3. Remove the barbell from the rack. Push your hips backward and squat down. Continue going down until your hip joints are slightly lower than knees. Your knees should not overshoot your toes, and the entire weight should be on your heels. Inhale as you go down.
  4. Exhale and get back up to the starting position.
  5. Do 2 sets of 5 reps. Increase the reps, sets, and weight as you advance.

8. Goblet Squat

Target

Glutes, core, quads, hamstrings, lower back, and shoulders.

Duration – 7 mins

Steps

  1. Stand straight with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, toes slightly pointing out, shoulders pinched back, chest forward, and the elbows slightly bent.
  2. Hold a 5.5-pound dumbbell with both your hands in front, close to your chest. Keep your elbows close to the torso and body weight on your heels.
  3. Inhale and push your hips out and squat down. Make sure your hip joints are a little lower than your knees, and your knees should not overshoot your toes.
  4. Hold this pose for a second.
  5. Exhale and come back up to the starting position.
  6. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

These are the 8 different variations of squats that you can do to tone your body and shed the fat. As you practice more, you will get better, and squatting will become easier. Here’s a list of benefits that you get by squatting regularly.

Benefits Of Squats

  • Help burn the fat.
  • Tone the muscles.
  • Build muscle strength.
  • Make real-life activities much easier.
  • Improve stamina.
  • Prevent injuries.
  • Help flush out the toxins.
  • Improve blood circulation.
  • Help to get rid of cellulite.
  • Increase flexibility.
  • Help build core strength.
  • Improve posture.
  • Strengthen the bones and joints.

The best way to do squats properly is to focus on your form. Beginners tend to get their form wrong and end up hurting their back and knees. Always keep your shoulders relaxed and your back straight, lift your chest, and maintain your body weight on your heels (not toes) while doing a squat. Make sure your knees are aligned with your toes when you get into the squat position. More importantly, do not do this exercise in a hurry and just focus on your form.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many calories will I burn by squatting?

Use this simple formula: number of squats * your body weight (plus dumbbells’ weight if you are using them)* 0.096. This will give you how many calories you can burn by squatting.

Is doing squats bad for your knees?

Yes, if you do it incorrectly. Squats should be done properly to prevent knee or back injuries. Follow the instructions given in the article to find out how to squat correctly.

How do squats help with lower back pain?

If you are suffering from lower back pain, talk to a doctor to find out if you are allowed to squat or do any other exercise. Lower back pain should be treated with regular physiotherapy, yoga, medical treatment.

How do squats help in weight loss?

Squats burn a considerable amount of calories, which helps shed the fat and build muscle. As you build muscle, your metabolic rate improves, which, in turn, helps burn the stored fat.

 

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Dr. Sudhansu Singh

(BPT)
Dr. Sudhansu Singh is a Physiotherapist, Sports and Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, and Neuro Physiotherapist with 8 years of experience. He is... more

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