Drop It Like a Squuuuuat

I think I speak for all women when I say we all want a nice, voluptuous, firm tush.  I mean, who wants a scrawny, floppy rear end that won't hold up a decent pair of pants?  That's what I thought: NO ONE!

I'm sure you've all done the same thing I have...mindlessly thumb through Instagram in search of the perfect booty, and then once you find "the one", you stalk their feed to see what their secret is.  Yep, been there.  Done that.  

I bet you the one thing all of those women with perfect backsides have in common is this: they SQUAT!  

I know, I know.  You're thinking, "Ahhh, man! But I hate squats!"  Trust me---you're not the only one!  But as dreadful as they can be, they WORK!  That is, as long as you're doing them right!  

A weighted squat should be a foundational exercise that is incorporated (in some variation or another) into every lower body workout program.  It not only works your butt muscles, but also your thighs, hamstrings, lower back, and core.  It basically works your entire lower body in one movement!

Now, let's check out the proper form to maximize your glute-growth, shall we?

The perfect starting squat stance would be this:

-Position your feet shoulder-width apart (or a little wider if you feel comfortable) and keep your toes pointing straight ahead.

-Knees slightly bent and not turned inwards.

-Make sure your back is straight and head is looking forward.

-Keep the weight (if using a barbell) on the meaty part of your shoulders); if using a dumbbell, hold them out to the sides of your knees, making sure not to hit your knees, but not stick them so far out to the sides that you're doing a full shoulder workout.

Now, time to sit down into that squat!  Follow these simple guidelines:

-Inhaling, slowly lower yourself down.

-Keep your knees lined up with your toes and legs at 90 degrees. You don't have to go down to the floor to get results; go as low as you comfortably can to avoid strain on your knees.  (Sometimes it helps to picture yourself actually sitting in a chair.)

-Keep your back straight and do not lean forward. 

-Make sure your weight is in your heels, not your toes; you should be able to wiggle your toes while in a squat. 

-Pause at the bottom of the movement so that you're not using your momentum to raise yourself back up.

-Exhaling, really squeeeeeeeeze those glutes, hamstrings, and quads to raise yourself back to a standing position.  

-Keep your core tight to prevent back injury, and don't arch your back on the upward movement.

-Don't lock out your knees once you reach the top again.

Of course, I don't expect you to just walk into a gym, throw a barbell over your shoulders, and bust out a bunch of squats.  These things, just like other exercises, take time!  And just like with other muscle-building exercises, progression is key.  By progression, I mean a gradual increase in the intensity of your workout, which can be result from changing the equipment used during the exercise and/or the amount of weight used. 

For example, let's say you start out using 15 pound dumbbells (30 pounds total), and your goal is 3 sets of 15-20 reps.  Once you can easily do this, it's time for a progressive change. You move on to the Smith machine (the intimidating looking machine that holds the bar in place for you), and increase your weight to 45 pounds.  Once you can easily hit your goal again, you increase your weight to 55 pounds and lower your goal rep range to 8-12.  When you feel comfortable enough in your form, you change over to the squat rack, where you can freely position the bar on your shoulders and not have the machine holding it for you (definitely more difficult).

All of these are examples of progression, which is exactly how you make those muscles grow!  Your muscles respond to the amount of stress you put on them, and in turn, recruit more muscle fibers.  Over time, your muscles get used to that amount of stress, and they stop recruiting additional fibers (or stop growing).  That's when you have to change equipment, increase weight, etc. to increase the amount of stress, and thus, make those puppies start growing again!

There ya go!  Now that you know the basics, it's time to get to squatting, ladies (and gents)!