Squats are easy, free and require no equipment. They strengthen your legs and buttocks, as well as improving their shape. What’s not to love?
You can use squats as a cardiovascular exercise (getting you puffed, giving you healthier heart and lungs, and burning fat) by speeding them up, or you can use squats to build strength by pausing at the bottom of the movement, or holding weights as you squat.
How to do a squat:
Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart, your back straight, shoulders back and down, chest up, abdominals and buttocks contracted. Place your weight mainly into your heels and bend both knees, squatting down with torso tilted forwards slightly, raising your arms to shoulder height at the same time. Keep your knees in line with your toes (not overshooting your toes). Then straighten your legs and stand upright again.
Eventually, the aim is to get your thighs parallel with the floor, but this can be a daunting prospect! To work towards doing a full squat, sit on a dining chair, then stand up straight, then follow the squat instructions above until you sit back down on the seat. As you gain strength and confidence, you can start just tapping your bottom to the chair, rather than sitting down. Then move on to just hovering over the chair as you squat. Eventually you can remove the chair altogether.
Safety tip: Squats may not be suitable for you if you have knee or leg joint problems. As with any exercise, if you feel pain in your joints or muscles at any time, stop immediately.