Blog - Squats for 6 packs
The glorious squat exercise, anyone accustomed to performing squats will no doubt be familiar with that burn in the legs and glutes, particularly in the days after when Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) sets in. Some of us love it and some of us learn to appreciate it. You may have heard the “squat for a 6 pack” phrase thrown about a bit, it is undeniable that squats will get you that flatter more defined tummy that we all desire.
This is due to many contributing factors. Firstly, to get a flatter more toned belly we need to lower the amount of fat being stored in our bodies. Despite, what some gimmicky fitness ads promote you will not achieve this by doing 50 abdominal crunches or sit ups a day for a month; in fact all you’ll achieve from doing that is a sore back or another injury, preventing you from actually working out to achieve the ‘wash board tum’ you want. The simple fact of the matter is that we all have abs, it’s just some of our bodies are hiding them under a bit more fat than we would like.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… ‘Cheers for that insight, now tell us how to lower our body fat percentage already!’ The key thing to remember which I have mentioned in previous blogs is that the vast majority of success (around 70-80%) comes from the diet, check out the She Nutrition blogs for more information on this. Today we’re focussing on one of the best exercises to help lower your body fat percentage.
As a rule a whole body approach is the best way to get a flat belly. Simply put, the more of your muscles that are working, the more calories your body is burning. Compound (multi muscle group) exercises are the best way to achieve this as they require a lot of energy to complete. Squats are a compound exercise that utilise the strength from the lower half of the body, including the biggest muscle we have, the glutes and quadriceps. These powerful muscle exert a tremendous amount of force and in doing so use a lot of energy, therefore burning a lot of calories. Incorporating squats into a total body work out is a very effective way of burning calories and conditioning the whole body.
A squat is an exercise which is done frequently, despite this it is often performed incorrectly. The start position is to stand with feet shoulder width apart, most people get this right… Before we can continue it’s best to mention different hand positions may be adopted depending on the purpose of doing the exercise. To help keep your balance I propose keeping your arms extended in front of you in line with the shoulders. Squatting is a lower limb exercise, so minimise any movement from the waist up when doing them.
- Bend the hips and knees simultaneously lowering yourself towards the floor
- Keep your knees pointing in the direction of your feet and no further forward than the heels – to achieve this focus on pushing your bum backwards as well as down
- Avoid increasing the curve of the lower back (lumbar vertebrae), do this by keeping the tension in the glutes at all times
- Deep squatting is the goal, continue moving down until your knees are as close to a 90° angle as possible, without compromising your form
- Then push up through the legs and in particular the quadriceps (thighs) and glutes (bum)
- At all times the shoulder blades are to be squeezed back, chest lifted and abs braced
Doing squats doesn’t only burn calories, when done correctly the core muscle are activated and strengthened as well. Some individuals find it difficult to get the desired depth with their squatting, generally this is due to muscle imbalances. A muscle imbalance should be addressed to avoid further aggravation or injury. As an interim measure and to ensure the glutes are being recruited properly, you can widen your feet to 1 ½ x shoulder width or more. The same motion is then carried out. You may have heard of these types of squats being referred to as goblet/sumo squats, in the past.
There are many different squats including the use of different weights, note that the motion should generally always remain the same, if your position is compromised at any point you should remove the additional weight which has been added.
Whenever you feel that burn from now on, you know the massive benefits of pushing on beyond the pain.
If you are looking to improve your exercise technique and fitness levels then contact Mark or Richie to receive further guidance. Specialising in muscle rebalancing means that we can help you keep injury free whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle.