The squat is a powerful exercise that works your lower body – gluteus maximus, quadriceps, and hamstrings as primary movers and your abdomen, back, and leg adductors and abductors as secondary movers. It is an exercise that strengthens quickly. Women do not have to worry about being too bulky – that comes only with a lot of exercise over time, and with eating an extra amount of protein, over the extra amount of protein you eat because you exercise.
Some fitness professionals and exercisers say that squats are bad for the back and knee. I have experienced back and knee discomfort with squats. Other professionals, as Dr. Fred Hatfield, who is an executive at the International Sports Science Association, has written over 60 exercise books and holds the world record in powerlifting (1,014 pounds) say that squats, if done properly, are not bad to the back and knees. It is best to have the approval or a physician before beginning a squat routine.
Beginners should use a squat rack machine, where the barbell is secured to the machine. You may want to start the first three or four weeks with no weight or just a small weight like five pounds on each side of the barbell to practice correct posture. Pick a weight that gives you a workout but not pain. Relax your back and keep your back straight. Keep your legs shoulder width apart. Toes should point just slightly sideways. Place the barbell behind your head. You may find it more comfortable to use a barbell pad provided by most gyms. Grasp the bar strongly with your wrists facing forward. Unhook the bar from the machine. Pretend that you are about to sit down. Sit as deeply as you can. For most people, their thighs will not be parallel with the floor. Each time you do the exercise, you may get closer to this. Make sure that your knees do not move beyond your toes. Inhale when you move downward and exhale when you move back up to the starting position. Move slowly each way. Do four sets of ten repetitions, once a week.
For squats without a machine, precede the same. Just be careful since it is more difficult. Beginners should use a machine unless they do a light weight. Have someone spot you if you are working at a high weight.
This exercise can also be performed with free weights. Using a bar might be painful to your shoulders. If you have major pain, consult a physician. Using free weights is great. Often you cannot use heavy free weights, however, because it proves painful to the shoulders. Again, if you have major pain, consult a physician.