Squat [Strength Skills Series 3 of 7]

During our 7-part skills series, we'll introduce you to skills that help you develop a better relationship with your body, awareness of your movements, and build a foundation of strength for doing any type of physical activity.

Intro to the Strength Skills Series

1: Body Scan

2: Breathing

3: Squat

4: Hip Hinge

5: Push

6: Pull

7: Rotation

Strength Training Programming

Can you sit down and stand up from a chair?

If so, you’re ready to start squatting! If you experience pain or extreme discomfort and you’re unsure why and how to work around it, it’s time to visit your doctor. Some people find they can do hip hinging exercises (next article in the strength skills series), so you can continue to strengthen your lower body without pain.

Being able to get up and down from a sitting position is critical in your ongoing quality of life and building squatting strength will help you move about your day with greater ease.

A squat means that you’re bending your ankle, knee, and hip joints while maintaining a neutral spine (spine isn’t bending forward - the plank skills will help with this).

If the muscles in your calves, thighs and hips are tight, your range of motion (ROM) will be limited. The good news is that your ROM can and will improve as you practice.

Chair Squat

Start by sitting down and standing up from a chair, paying attention to:

  • Knees out - Pushing your knees outward, rather than letting your knees “cave in”
  • Heels down - Sitting into your heels and midfoot, rather than on your toes, or letting your heels come off the floor
  • Chest up - Lifting your chest up to the sky, rather than letting your torso collapse forward

When you feel confident with the chair squat, take away the chair squat to a depth that feels comfortable yet challenging, ideally working your way to getting your hips just below the height of your knees.

Now, you’re ready to add some resistance! Dumbbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, resistance bands, or even your backpack make great weights - use what’s available to you and mix it up over time.

Squatting Variations

Exercises that use similar muscles as the squat include:

  • Step ups
  • Lunges
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Jumping
  • Pistol squats
  • Leg press machine