Thanks to Jen Selter, every girl is hitting the gym to tone and shape their backside.
If that’s you, then you are in the right place.
One of the best and most effective exercises for perkier and toned glutes is "squats".
Squats are one marvelous exercise, and when done with proper form, it strengthens your legs and tones your butt and core.
It's a must have exercise in any strength training routine.
Inspite of many "benefits of squats", it was not a mainstream exercise some short years ago. In fact, it was one exercise advised NOT to do by many doctors and trainers.
Squat for Stronger Knees and Back
Many believed squats hurt patients knees and back.
Chris Artis, writer of shape.com neglectfully writes "We expect the trainers at our gyms to be the resident experts on all things fitness. But it doesn't always work that way".
Another fitness expert, Bret Conteras, CSCS and co-author of Strong Curves voices his stand on squats; he commented "Rarely is this advice is appropriate."
Often doctors and physical therapists are overly cautious due to liability issues, and too often their primarily concern isn't about you building strength and lifting weights, but it's about keeping you injury-free.
Although it is understandable to stay on the cautious side of fitness (and they should most of the time!), they don't encourage their patients to harness the power and strengthening benefits of lifting and squatting, says Bret.
Another reason "don't squat" advise is found inappropriate or wrong is that the fundamental belief of "squat hurts knees and back" is not true.
Squat itself does not cause back pain or knee injuries.
It's when squat is done incorrectly, it can cause you harm, just with any other exercises.
Improper form can put unnecessary pressure on the back and knees. More those areas are weak and lack in strength, higher your risk of injuries is.
On the other hand, when done correctly, it can be beneficial.
In fact, adding squats to regular workout regiments can prevent knee injuries. As they strengthen the knee ligaments, tendon and the muscles around the knees, your knees will be less prone to injuries.
Squats also help increase bone mass and take a preventative measure with bone fractures and osteoporosis as you age.
The takeaway is that squats will hurt your knees or your back, only if your 'squat form' is incorrect.
Do the exercise with the proper squat form; it will make you stronger.
Get a Shaped Butt with Squats
If you are serious about getting the Jen Selter tush, include squats into your leg workout routines at least twice a week.
For better results, follow the American Council on Exercises (ACE)'s advice.
Their study shows that when "squatting below the knees and thighs are parallel to the floor", you activate both the gluteus medius and gluteus maximuns.
Depending on your flexibility, you may or may not be able to reach the squat point ACE recommends. When you squat deep, you engage the largest and second largest muscles in your glutes.
Squats for Runners
Image Credit: Squats for runners
Because squats have been shown to be an effective exercise increasing lower strength, you will also improve your other activities like running if you like to run.
One study shows lower body strength can help you become a better runner.
There are endless "squat variations" available, as with most other strength training exercises.
The only limitation is the equipment you have an access to.
Trying out different squat variations is not only a boredom buster, but also important in targeting different parts of legs and glutes.
A good example is plie squat. By performing with a wider than shoulder stance, this squat variant targets your inner thigh muscles (adductors) as opposed to regular squats where the focus is the front part of your thighs and glutes.
While many underutilized them, but variety is truly the key to squats.
But, we can't really get started on squat variations without talking about the basic squat.
It's important to first get acquainted with the standard, bodyweight squat before adding free weights for resistance or changing your stance.
Especially if you are a beginner, make sure you start there.
7 Best Squats
We picked out 7 of the most popular squat variations to help get familiar with the exercise.
Feel like you need more? Check out Greatist's list of 40 Squat Variations You Need to Try.
Here are 7 squat variations based on your fitness level and experience.
Squat Variations (Easy to Hard)
No.1: Bodyweight Squat
- Stand as tall as you can with your feet spread shoulder-width apart.
- Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. Continue for 12-15 repetitions and do 2-3 sets.
No.2: Plie Squat
- Start by standing up tall and hold one dumbbell at either end with both hands, with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, and your toes turned out about 45 degrees.
- Letting the dumbbell hang down naturally between your legs.
- Bend at the knees into a squat position, stop when your thighs are almost parallel to the ground.
- Push through your heels to return to the starting position, squeezing your glutes and pushing your pelvis forward at the top of the motion. Continue for 12-15 repetitions and do 2-3 sets.
No.3: Goblet Squat
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest, elbows pointing toward the floor.
- Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat, stop when your thighs are almost parallel to the ground, and your elbows brushing the insides of your knees.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds, then push yourself back to start. Continue for 12-15 repetitions and do 2-3 sets
No.4: Dumbbell Squat
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a hold a pair of dumbbells so that your palms are facing each other, and rest the dumbbell heads on the meatiest part of each shoulder.
- Keep your body as upright as you can for the entire move. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat, without letting your elbows drop and keeping your body as upright as you can.
- Once your thighs are parallel to the floor or lower, pause for 1-2 seconds, the push yourself back to start. Continue for 12-15 repetitions, and do 2-3 sets.
Barbell Overhead Squat