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Why you should squat

Why you should squat

The simple-looking squat is actually a major weapon in your fitness armoury. It is a great compound exercise (a move that works several muscles groups at once), and it does far more than give you strong thighs.

The squat is for everyone, whether you are doing light exercise or serious training. Read on for the low down on getting low down!


At its simplest, the squat is ‘heading for an invisible chair’, and it is an exercise in good technique and muscle control. It can be done with or without equipment, and is a central part of many workouts.


Here is a guide to the very basic, no equipment squat. This is also known as the ‘air squat’ because that’s all the equipment that you need.

Remember the top tips for squat beginners:

  • Core engaged
  • Back straight
  • Thighs roughly parallel to floor at the lowest point

Correct positioning or ‘form’ is very important, but it isn’t the same for everyone as it depends on your build. For example, if you are short body/long legs, your squat position will be different from someone with the opposite proportions.  Your flexibility also affects your squat form, so don’t force moves and be aware of any struggling joints.


The squat works many muscles, not just the legs. The effect begins in quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles, which are supporting your weight. All your abdominal muscles are also working to support your body in the right form. The arms and shoulders are also working, especially when you move on to add weights.

The squat is also a functional exercise, which means that it strengthens muscles for everyday life. That’s really important in fitness work, because we are trying to look after ourselves as well as get stronger and more toned.


Once you have the basics mastered and muscles are getting stronger, it is time to add some more resistance. This can either be with free weights or using resistance machines. It’s also time to ‘break parallel’ by getting those thighs lower.

If your interest is in weights and building strength, here is a squat programme for weight lifters and some useful hints and tips. As always, get advice from gym staff about using machines and weights to avoid injury.

Simple, progressive and highly productive for fitness – what’s not to like about this move? So head up, shoulders back and let’s squat!

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.