Are you looking for an exercise that can work your entire body and yield great results? If you think that you need to spend hours in the gym lifting heavy free weights in order to reap the benefits of exercise, then you have not been introduced to squats using elastic exercise bands. While squats are commonly known as a leg exercise, most people don’t know that this exercise also helps improve the strength and muscle mass in other parts of your body.
As you grow older, your legs become more important for mobility, and squats will help you increase your leg strength. At the same time, squats will improve the way your legs and brain communicate to help prevent falls that may cause you serious injury. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to go to the gym to perform squats. You can use an elastic exercise band or resistance tubing, which is a fitness tool that is portable and convenient. With bands, you can do squats just about anywhere whether it’s in your living room, office or hotel. Here’s a simple guide to one of the most powerful yet simple exercises that anyone can do.
Muscles Targeted: Squats help to build your quadriceps, glutes (butt), calves and hamstrings. This exercise also improves mobility, flexibility, balance, works out your core and strengthens your stabilizer muscles and the surrounding connective tissues and ligaments. It also targets your butt as well as other muscles in your body.
Exercise Instructions (squats with hands in): Place both feet on the band with a shoulder width stance. Grasp the handles of the exercise bands and then bring both handles up to your chin, with your knuckles facing outward. Your knees should be slightly bent at the starting position. Slowly squat down as far as you can comfortably go and then back up for one full repetition.
Things To Avoid: Do not attempt to do squats if you have any kind of knee injury until you get clearance from your doctor. Like any of the other exercises, form is more important than quantity of repetitions. If possible, do squats in front of a mirror so that you can monitor your technique. If that is not possible, ask a friend to spot you. Focus your eyes forward with your knees centered and your back in a straight position. Only squat down to a position that is comfortable for you. Some people are very flexible and can squat down super low while others can’t go down that far at all. Find your own comfortable level and perform the movement safely.
When doing squats, feel the tension in your quadriceps and butt. It will decrease as you lower down but you should still feel the burn in your leg muscles. Draw power from your legs and butt, not your back. Do not use momentum to propel yourself upwards. Do not hurry through the repetitions in order to finish faster. Your knees and your feet should be in the same direction throughout the entire movement.
Exercise Instructions (squats with hands out): Stand with your feet just beyond shoulder width apart while standing on the exercise band with both feet. Holding both handles of the exercise band, keep your hands next to your shoulders. Squat to a point to where your thighs become parallel to the floor and then return to the start position. It is very important that you keep your back as straight as possible throughout this movement (one way to help do this is to focus your eyes on a spot high on the wall in front of you throughout the entire exercise). Return to the start position and repeat for 10-12 repetitions.
Reps and Sets: Do 10-20 repetitions for each set depending on your fitness level. For beginners, start with 2-3 sets per workout, working yourself to about 4-5 sets. Rest for 60-90 seconds between sets and perform squats 1-2 times per week.
Other Exercises To Use: Combine squats with other resistance bands exercises like lunges and glute kickbacks for great results in your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes!