Member Zachary Madrigal will be demonstrating the Back Squat for us this month!

The squat is a functional movement.  Functional exercises assist your body with performing real-life activities.  Practicing the squat will assist in building muscle in both the upper and lower body, helping your muscles to work more efficiently, as well as to promote mobility and balance.  Not only does the squat target the leg muscles, such as the gluteal, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, but it also works the stabilizing core muscles. In practicing squats, communication between the brain and muscle groups also improve, which helps prevent falls while improving your balance.

1. Plant your feet flat on the ground, toes slightly outward. Feet should be about shoulder-width apart. Getting below the bar, bending your knees slightly. The height of the bar must be adjusted for your personal body height. It is important to keep the weight on your heels while keeping your full feet on the ground. Refrain from distributing the weight to your toes or ball of the foot, as this is bad for your knees.

2. Position the bar behind your head, with the weight on your back shoulders. You want the bar to be positioned over your trapezius muscles, not on your neck. Grasp the bar with your hands at a spot that you find comfortable, usually about six inches outward from your shoulders. If this is your first time squatting, do this without adding weight to the bar to learn the movement first. Raise and dismount the barbell from the rack. Then take a step forward or backward, or the rack will interfere with the motion. Ask a friend or gym member to spot.

3. Inhale as you bend your knees and slowly lower your hips as if to “sit” on an invisible chair. Look straight ahead, keeping your back straight and chin up throughout the movement. Keeping your spine aligned, bend at your knees (keeping knees behind toes) as if you were lowering yourself toward sitting down on a chair. Keep your heels on the floor.

4. Exhale as you push straight back up, lifting your hips up and forward to lift towards starting position. From lower position, push up off your heels and lift the weight while maintaining good, proper and safe form. Use almost every part of your body while straightening your legs, and slowly, evenly move up.

Caution: If you have back issues, substitute the back squat with the dumbbell squat variation or a leg press. If you have a healthy back, ensure perfect form and never slouch the back forward as this can cause back injury. Be cautious as well with the weight used; in case of doubt, use less weight rather than more.