How to Achieve Proper Squat Form

A woman exercising.

They're sometimes referred to as the king of all exercises, and with good reason. 

Squats are a full-body fitness staple that work the hips, glutes, quads, and hamstrings, and sneakily strengthen the core. Squats may help improve balance and coordination, as well as bone density. Plus, they're totally functional

Time to banish those sloppy squats and help perfect the go-to move.

The Bodyweight Squat

Become a bodyweight squat pro, and you'll be ready to move on to weighted squats in no time! Just follow these steps.

1. Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles.

2. Roll the shoulders back and down away from the ears. 

Note: Allowing the back to round (like a turtle's shell) will cause unnecessary stress on the lower back. It's important to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.

3. Extend arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down (like your hands are on someone's shoulders at a 7th grade dance). Or, if it's more comfortable, pull elbows close to the body, palms facing each other and thumbs pointing up.

4. Initiate the movement by inhaling and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend.

5. While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight. Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.

6. The best squats are the deepest ones your mobility allows. Optimal squat depth would be your hips sinking below the knees (again, if you have the flexibility to do so comfortably). 

Pro tip: Squatting onto a box until the butt gently taps it will be a reminder to squat low.

7. Engage core and, with bodyweight in the heels, explode back up to standing, driving through heels. Imagine the feet are spreading the floor (left foot to the left, right foot to the right) without actually moving the feet.

More from Greatist: Get Low: Deep Squats are the Best Squats

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Greatist is one of the fastest-growing fitness, health and happiness media start-ups. Check out more health and fitness news, tips, healthy recipes, expert opinion, and fun times at Greatist.com.

Greatist is one of the fastest-growing fitness, health and happiness media start-ups. Check out more health and fitness news, tips, healthy recipes, expert opinion, and fun times at Greatist.com.

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