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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

TrainerTiff: Squats Make the Legs

"I couldn't even walk down the stairs without it burning."

A line like that is music to a trainer's ears.

Music? Yes. Music. Because it means a trainer put a client through a seriously intense leg workout that yielded results ... score!

Post-workout soreness should be your mission. Being sore is not a bad thing. (I repeat: Being sore is not a bad thing.)

Soreness is positive because it lets you know that the muscle was properly stressed to allow growth. And that's the whole point anyway, right?

(Ladies, don't forget we don't have the body chemistry to grow big, bulky muscles. When our muscles grow they become firmer and tighter.)

Squats are my favorite. They're great for defining your leg muscles. With one exercise you're able to hit many areas of the lower body -- lower back, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.

If you haven't been doing squats, I highly recommend adding them to your routine.

C'mon ladies, who ever said having nicely toned and shaped legs was something to be avoided? Right, I don't think I've ever heard that.

And fellas, don't neglect the lower body. Having hot shoulders, pecs and arms becomes a lot less hot when your legs don't match.

The nice thing about squats is that there are so many different types: barbell squats, Smith-machine squats, hack squats, dumbbell squats, stability ball wall squats, bodyweight squats -- to name a few.

Critics of the exercise discourage it because of its potential injury risk. Improper form can cause damage the knees and back.

However, this risk can be mitigated. To reduce the chances of joint injury, proper form is critical to any exercise, not just squats.

Done properly you should have no worries. When performing the squat, follow these tips:
  • Start with a weight you're comfortable with. Build from there.
  • Imagine you're sitting straight down into a chair as you squat down -- stick your butt out.
  • ALWAYS make sure your knees do not go past your toes.
  • Don't lean forward. Keep your chin pointed toward the ceiling to help prevent this.
  • Never lock your knees as you stand up -- keep them slightly bent.
If you want to try it, and you've never done the exercise before, grab a trainer and get on over to that squat rack. Not ready for the squat rack? That's OK, grab some dumbbells or a stability ball and get to work.

And if a day or two later you find yourself unable to go down a flight of stairs without feeling an incredible burning sensation in your thighs ... score! Your mission is complete.

Tiffiany Moore is a certified personal trainer and an NANBF figure competitor. Read more at www.TrainerTiff.blogspot.com. Questions or comments? E-mail TrainerTiff@hotmail.com

1 comment:

ajia said...

my legs hurt so bad right now! revisited the leg press and leg extension machines in the gym. slowly but surely getting back in shape. thanks for the squats pointers!!!