If you are a gym goer, chances are that you are more keen on strength exercises than cardio. A vast majority of us consider cardio just a warmup and preparation part of the workout.

That is a bit unfair to cardio, as it can provide you with a lot of benefits if you do it right. Squats, in particular, are often done improperly, meaning that you get all of the soreness and exhaustion from doing them, but none of the rewards.

Experts at Fit Athletic share a few secrets about squats you really should know.

The Advantages of Proper Squats

When done right, squats are among the best types of exercises for strengthening your legs, particularly your glutes. Additionally, they can give you a lot better mobility and keep your legs and joints limber and in top form.

The Risks of Bad Squats

On the other hand, if you’re doing squats improperly, you’re not just wasting energy. You may be putting too much pressure on ligaments or joints of your legs which can ultimately result in an injury which will put you out of commission for a long time.

You can ask a professional trainer such as https://fitathletic.com/personal-trainers-san-diego/ to help you with it at your local gym, or you can follow the simple instructions in this article and get your squats in order.

Before You Start Doing Squats

Just as with any other exercise, when it comes to squats, you need to prepare well. That means doing the stretching and ensuring that your body is ready for the strain.

Find the suitable foot position, as you will need them to anchor you in place. Most people find that pointing your feet slightly outwards works the best, but if you are more comfortable keeping them straight, it should work just as well.

It is also important to keep your core rigid, so flex your abs as if you were expecting someone to punch you. If you follow all of these steps, you’re ready to do a proper squat. At first, you may have to think about it while doing them, but in time it will become automatic, and you will have the proper squat technique.

How to Do a Proper Squat

What you don’t what to do is rely too heavily on your knees when starting a squat. Instead, go for the sitting down motion. This way, you will prevent overburdening your knees and be on your way towards a proper squat.

It is your posterior that should lead your movements, and the rest of your body should naturally follow. Just be careful to stop yourself before you actually sit down.

Keep Your Knees Firm

As you go lower, your instinct might be to point your knees inward because that is easier. However, it may lead to balance loss and you may fall down. This can be particularly dangerous if you have weights while you’re doing squats.

Instead, go for a firm position of your knees, or even make them go slightly outward. They shouldn’t go wider than your toes, though. It will be the most stable position.

Keep Your Back Straight and Your Feet Planted

Another way people want to make their squats easier is by sort of hunching. However, it is just as bad for you as sitting hunched down. It will also make your workout less effective and harder. You can help yourself keep your back straight by holding a weight to your chest, or even leaning against the wall.

However, the most common mistake people make when doing squats is lifting their heels off the ground. Not only are you reducing your contact area with the floor, thus compromising your balance, you are also failing to activate any of the muscles the exercise was originally meant to activate.

Working out can be hard enough, so making sure you’re not making it even harder for yourself needlessly can be important.

By Piper

Piper Skyler West: Piper, a sports medicine expert, shares advice on injury prevention, athletic performance, and sports health tips.