SQUATS! This move is at the top of my list because it accomplishes so much for us by targeting the major (largest) muscles of the lower body together with multiple joints (hips, knees, ankles). The core (abdominals, spine and obliques) is also activated and as such this exercise helps enhance balance.
How To: The basic squat begins by standing tall with your feet hip-width distance apart, shoulders relaxed and head held high. Look straight ahead to keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine. Hold your arms straight out in front of you (this is best if you need extra balance) or place your hands on your hips. When you’re ready, keep your core tight and maintain a neutral spine as you slowly squat down (as if you were about to sit in a chair behind you). Be sure to keep your heels firmly planted on the ground and to keep your torso upright. Pause for a beat before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat for 8 to 12 repetitions.
Add 1 or 2 repetitions to your daily squat routine; when you can complete 3 sets of squats (12 repetitions each set), then you are ready to add some variation to your routine. I’ll list a few options below.
- Prisoner Squat (with hands held behind head)
- Plié squat
- Curtsy squat
- Squat jump
- Squat jack
- Squat with side kick
- Split squat (also known as a lunge)
If you would like explanations or pictures for the squat variations, just attach your comments or questions to this post. Functional fitness exercise number 2 of 10 will be posted soon…in the meantime, keeping squatting!