Squats are a staple of nearly all exercise programs. Of course, they primarily work your lower body (quads, glutes, and hamstrings) but they have full-body benefits as well! We can talk all day about the best workout plans and exercises for your goals, but when it really comes down to it, to get results, it’s in the execution that matters!
So let’s focus on getting the most out of every squat that we do. In this post, I’ll walk you through the main 4 squat “faults” I see and 4 small tweaks you can make to master your squat form.
Wrtiten By: Alexandra Jones
I’m Alison’s super awesome “baby” sister, but I’m also a client. Though I don’t have kids of my own, I play the role of school-mom to 80+ high schoolers in Baltimore City. As a special educator, balance and exercise have not inherently been a part of my vocabulary and my overall health had been suffering for years- even before I became a teacher. I’ve also been living my entire life with a mood disorder, so when I’m down or stressed, which for a while was pretty much every day, the thought alone of doing anything but laying on the couch and watching TV sucked all the energy from my body. However, I’ve spent the last 18 or so months working [with Alison] extra hard to establish and maintain routines around exercise, nutrition, and self-care.
[Alex will be bloging occasionally about her experiences with self-care, health and fitness. She's much better of a story telling than I am. I hope you enjoy (and learn a little something).]
Chapter 1: Sunday Morning
The pigeons outside my bedroom window were cooing gently as I opened my eyes to a few rays of sunshine peeking in through the blinds. The alarm had not gone off yet. I breathed deeply, stretched, and rolled over to shut it off before it sliced through the quiet, enjoying the feeling of waking up energized. I couldn’t even remember the last time that happened, but here I was, waking up on a Sunday morning, without feeling anxious about all the things I needed to get done; I was satisfied, content, HAPPY. I could sense that the day was going to be filled with pure magic and joy.
I hate to break it to you, but spot reduction or the idea that you can tone specific body part is a myth perpetuated by pop culture taking over the fitness industry. It sounds cooler than what the science actually says. Stop believing the hype, and start training smarter. Learn how below!
Do these sound familiar?
"Tighten up your waistline with these 5 exercises."
"The secret moves that will melt your muffin top."
"Get tank top arms with these 5 moves."
....it goes on and on and on....
Seeing posts like these show up in my news feed drives me nuts.
It’s setting us all back.
Pushups, when done with proper form, activate nearly every muscle in your body. Your biceps, core muscles, triceps, anterior deltoids, and lower body muscle groups are all activated to support your body and stabilizing your movement. This makes pushups are great for your heart too! When you simultaneously work large muscle groups, your heart must work harder to deliver oxygenated blood to all the muscles. Ultimately, pushups are both an effective strength and cardiovascular exercise, which stimulates muscle growth, supports heart health and promotes fat loss.
Bonus: You don’t need any equipment or very much time to get in somebody toning pushups! Now drop and give me 10!
...wait… remember that part about perfect form to maximize effectiveness. Before you drop and give me 10 read on about the perfect pushup form, how to master the perfect pushup, and how to build the strength to get off your knees.
Perfect Pushup Form
While you read this really let the form sink in. Don’t let the negative thoughts in your brain tell you “you can’t do it perfectly like that anyway, why bother”.... Because with practice you can! I’m going to show you how at the end of this post.
“Now I can do pushups and I really like that. I like when I got into the yoga class now and I’m the one that’s going to be full on pushups. Even if there are other things I can’t do that give me so much confidence and pride.”
Step 1: Get into a straight arm plank position with hands planted directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width apart). Ground the toes into the floor about hip width apart (wider for more balance or feet together for an added core challenge) to stabilize the bottom half of the body. Engage the abs and back so the body is neutral, in one straight line.
Step 2: Begin to lower the body as you inhale—back flat, eyes focused about three feet in front of your hands to keep a neutral neck—until you nearly touch the floor, chest directly between the hands. Don’t let the butt dip or stick out at any point during the move; the body should remain flat from head to toe all the way through the movement. Draw the shoulder blades back and down, while keeping the elbows tucked close to the body, so the upper arms form a 45-degree angle at the bottom of the pushup position and the elbows break the plane of the back.
Step 3: Keeping the core engaged, exhale as you push back to the start position as explosively as possible.
HOW TO GET THERE
That’s all well and good but pushups are hard. Which is why we women often resort to dropping to our knees. Yes they make it easier because they take away some of the weight you are pushing up but they also take away from all those full body benefits mentioned above.
Instead, try the Negative pushup!
These engage the full body the same way as the full pushup while helping you build up the strength necessary to complete the whole movement. All the work in a Negative pushup is done lowering yourself down as slow as possible. Don't worry about how you are getting back up.
Here’s how it works:
Be sure to follow all of the good from rules above.
Step 1: Start in a perfect pushup plank position as mention above.
Step 2: Slowly lower your body all the way down to the floor. Really focus on keeping that perfect straight line form I talked about earlier. Unless you are pregnant don’t worry about falling onto your belly; in that case, inclined pushups are a better option. Use every last bit of strength to go as slow as possible, and then lay down on the floor. Take 2-second break if necessary.
Step 3: Push yourself back up into the plank by any means necessary.
Start with 3 sets of 10 a couple times a week. After a few weeks, try to make the first few full pushups and go back to the negative pushups when you can’t do anymore. Over time the ratio with shift and you’ll be doing more and more full pushups.
Go into any gym right now (at least the ones I’ve been in) and you will see this:
You'll see women on the treadmill, elliptical or other cardio machine and the men over in the weight area. It’s partly because it’s what you know, it’s what you are comfortable.
Maybe none ever told you different but only cardio is not going to get you the results that you want! In fact, only doing cardio can be doing more damage than good.
If you want to lose weight, tone up, feel comfortable and confident in your skin again get off the treadmill (at least some of the time) and start doing strength training.
Let me tell you why and how!
Does this sound familiar?
You have a goal to lose weight so, you start scrolling and searching for healthy recipes, pinning healthy recipes, and putting together meal plans, ...it's all so overwhelming...
Then either you don’t start any of them. OR, if you do start, you make a perfect meal on Monday, Tuesday maybe, then on Wednesdays you just aren’t feeling it so you serve whatever leftovers you can find.
You grocery shopped earlier this week for all-the-things but "F-it" you are just having cereal for dinner on Thursday. By Friday night the kitchen's closed and you are just done with this whole "healthy eating thing!"
If you are one who likes to find and create those Instagram worthy, perfectly plated, healthy meals, this post may not be for you. But if you want to forget the fancy, forget the stress, forget the overwhelm, and just learn to put together simple, balanced, healthy meals (and really redefined what a meal looks like) that work for you AND make changes that last, keep reading!
I know what you want!
You want the step by step bulletproof how-to guide to dropping off the pounds, toning up, feeling like yourself again, and be more comfortable and confident in your skin.
And I have that for you... Believe me when I tell you I do, but I'm not giving that to you right here, right now, today, because we both know that you are not going to do it unless we talk about what is getting in your way first.
First, I want to walk through the 5 things that are holding you back, that are getting in your way from real lasting weight loss.
These are a few of my favorite things (raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens… sorry I can’t not sing that song when I hear that line). They are mostly practical, but also with a little bit of fun…
Here is your Living Room Workout Club Holiday Fit Gift Guide!
For a mom looking to start a new fitness routine or create a healthy lifestyle, the two main obstacles are time and energy.
I’ve written already on how to be more efficient with your time and talked about how you can squeeze it in when you can, but to even get there you need E.N.E.R.G.Y.
Of course, the first thing to address regarding energy is sleep, but if you are like many moms how much sleep you are getting is out of your control. However, if you aren’t getting as much sleep as you could be getting (honestly), you really should check yourself!
Here are 3 things you can control that will help you get your energy back.
I'm going to use an analogy here, so stick with me for a second...
As a parent you wouldn't want your kids teacher to just give them the text book and say "good luck." Right?
You also wouldn't want the teacher to just give them all the answers to the test either. Would you?
You want your kids teachers to actually teach them something, right??