Sit back, but don’t relax. As babies, we master the squat before we learn to stand or walk; as adults, we must rediscover our squat potential. This primal movement pattern is a base for many activities, like taking a seat and lifting heavy objects. “The squat will give you the strength to lift correctly by using your lower body instead of your back,” says Lisa Wheeler, the vice president of fitness programming at DailyBurn.com. “It’s also one of the most time-effective moves for shaping your entire lower body, especially your backside.” Since it engages all the major muscle groups of the lower body at once, you can squat your way to being a better runner, tennis player, or dancer. (But no guarantees if you have two left feet.)
Try a goblet squat. Hold a 10- to 15-pound dumbbell vertically with both hands lightly pressed against your sternum, maintaining contact with your sternum. This will help counterbalance your weight and allow for a deeper range of motion.
Having trouble mastering the squat? It could be an ankle-mobility issue. Try putting a folded towel under each heel.
photo by Henry Leutwyler, illustratrion by Brownbird Design