A trainer once told me if I could do only three moves for the rest of my life those moves should be planks, pushups and squats. With these three moves (and their myriad modifications) you can strengthen and tone every muscle in your body—all without any equipment.
These moves are special because they use your body weight to provide resistance. They also force your muscles to work together in the way nature designed them, strengthening the ligaments and tendons that connect to the muscles. Plus, as an added bonus they can be modified to challenge any level of fitness from beginner to advanced.
Like the plank, it's important to master the form for the basic squat before you can move on to more advanced versions of the pose.
Master the Squat
- Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart. Your knees, ankles and hips should be in a straight line.
- Push your butt back and down—imagine that you are sitting down in a chair.
- Keep your knees over your ankles as you lower—don't let your knees extend over the middle of your foot or past your toes. This can cause injury.
- Engage your core to protect your lower back. Keep your torso upright and your chest reaching up not forward over your legs.
- Make sure your weight is about 80 percent in your heels—20 percent in your toes. You can check that you have the right form by trying to lift your toes off the ground while you are at the bottom of your squat.
- Engage your core and then push through your heels to return to standing.