When it comes to fitness, one area that fitness newbies and fitness pros constantly neglect is legs.
Everyone wants to have killer biceps or a huge chest but very few people make fitness themed New Year’s resolutions that involve their legs.
In this article I’m going to ensure that you don’t neglect your legs this New Year by looking at squats.
I’ll be explaining why squats should definitely be part of your workout plans this year and then listing a number of squat variations and squat workouts you can use this New Year to maximize your fitness.
Squats are one of the oldest, most popular leg exercises going. While there are literally hundreds of ways to train your legs, there are a number of reasons why I think you should start with squats:
1) They Target Multiple Leg Muscles
Many other leg exercises such as leg extensions and hamstring curls only target one part of the legs, so you need to perform multiple exercises to give your legs a full workout.
However, squats are a compound movement and bring the majority of your leg muscles into play which means they give your legs an effective workout on their own.
2) They Can Be Performed With & Without Weights
Most leg exercises use added resistance which means you either need to hold dumbbells or use a special exercise machine to perform them.
However, while squats can be performed with extra weight if you want to add resistance, this is completely optional.
This makes squats a much more flexible exercise option than most other leg exercises out there.
As discussed above, squats can be performed with or without extra resistance. In addition to this, you can make them more or less difficult by using certain pieces of equipment or adjusting your squatting stance as you perform them.
The list below highlights three common squat variations you can use, based on your current fitness levels:
1) Beginner Variation – Chair Squats
If you’re new to fitness and don’t think you’ve got the balance or strength to complete a regular squat, chair squats are a great starting point.
To perform chair squats, grab a chair, put it behind you and then squat as normal, making sure you come back up once your butt touches the chair.
Having the chair behind you provides you with a small amount of support during the lower part of the squat and helps you master the correct form.
Here’s A Video Demonstration Of Chair Squats
2) Intermediate Variation – BOSU Squats
If you’ve mastered regular squats and want a bit more of a challenge, BOSU squats will do just that. To perform a BOSU squat, grab a BOSU ball and place it either dome side or platform side up, depending on which side you are most comfortable with.
Then stand on the BOSU ball, get your balance and perform the squat as normal. The use of the BOSU ball makes you really work on your balance as you squat and in doing this, brings a new dimension to the exercise.
Here’s A Video Demonstration Of BOSU Squats
3) Advanced Variation – Single Legged Squats
If you want the ultimate squatting challenge, single legged squats are exactly what you’re looking for. To perform single legged squats, raise one leg off the ground, get your balance on your standing leg and then perform a squat.
When doing single legged squats, make sure you perform an equal amount of single legged squats on each leg. By performing squats on just one leg, you double the intensity of the exercise and also give your balance a serious test.
Here’s A Video Demonstration Of Single Legged Squats
One of the best things about squats is that they’re very flexible. This means that not only do they do a great job of toning and strengthening your legs but they’re also an excellent addition to any workout.
For the best results, you should create your own squat based workout based on your fitness goals. However, if you need a little inspiration, here are two squat based workouts for you to try:
Workout 1 – Full Body Squat Workout (you will need a pull up bar for this workout)
1. Stand below the pull up bar and perform one squat or any of the squat variations listed above.
2. Bend your knees, place your hands on the floor, kick your legs out behind you, assume the push up position and perform one push up.
3. Kick your legs back in, jump up, grab the pull up bar and perform one pull up.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 for as many repetitions as you desire.
Workout 2 – Jumping Squat & Tuck Cardio Workout
1. Find a space outside where there’s enough room for you to do 100 meter sprints.
2. Perform 10 squats or any of the squat variations listed above and after coming up from each squat, jump as high as you can and tuck your knees into your body.
3. After 10 jumping squats, stand up and sprint 100 meters.
4. Repeat steps 2-3 for as many repetitions as you desire.
As you can see, squats are a brilliant exercise that can create powerful legs and be used as a basis for an effective full body workout.
So if you’re planning to get fit this New Year, make sure you don’t skip out on your legs. Instead, take advantage of the squat variations and squat workouts listed in this article and build a set of strong legs this New Year.