Squats are a must for a great butt and strong thighs. They’re one of the most effective calisthenics exercises you can do, and the best part is you don’t need anything but your own bodyweight to squat like a champ. Squats can be done anywhere, at any time, and the benefits of doing them are numerous. According to Women’s Health, squats activate every muscle in your legs, strengthen your core, and even increase your strength in regular, daily activities.
In fact, you’re probably doing squats every day and don’t even realize, as every time you sit down and stand up, you’re technically squatting. They’re incredibly easy to incorporate into your workout routine, too. As personal trainer Katrina Pilkington advises, “I tell my clients to do squats regularly wherever and whenever they can.”
That being said, there are several major myths about squats that might be putting you off, and if the following is one of them, consider yourself told.
Squats are not bad for your knees
Squats, when done effectively with correct form, can leave you screaming in pain when you try to sit down or get back up the following day, or even for a few days after. But they shouldn’t leave your knees aching. And yet, one of the most pervasive fitness myths is that squats are supposedly bad for your knees. As InStyle advises, people with knee problems are generally advised not to do squats or to run too much, lest they negatively affect their knees, which makes it seem like the two things are interlinked.
As performance physical therapist Alec Hyde explains, if the body isn’t adequately warmed up, running too much too quickly or squatting too heavily too fast could leave your knees aching. However, “neither exercise is inherently bad” for them. Always be wary when somebody warns that a certain exercise is wrong for you because, in reality, there is no such thing as “bad” exercises. Obviously, if an exercise is causing you extreme pain, you should stop doing it, but provided your form is on point and you’re not overextending yourself, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Squatting correctly strengthens legs overall
In fact, as Pilkington advised Women’s Health, the more regularly you’re strength training, the better condition your body will be in overall — including your bones. “Regular strength training helps increase lean muscle mass and creates support for our bones,” she noted. In particular, your femur, or thigh bone, will be strengthened by regular squatting. As Pilkington argues, it’s “the largest bone in the body and holds onto the largest muscles in the body—a.k.a. the glutes. So why not strengthen this muscle the most?”
Make sure your form is correct, ensuring your feet are pointing either straight forward or slightly outward. As you move, ensure your hips are going down and back, and your knees stay over your second and third toes. Always keep your knees behind your toes and “don’t let them cave in toward each other,” because this will strain the joint and could cause pain. Shoulders should “be down and back,” your chest open, and your spine neutral. Go slowly, concentrate, and your legs, butt, and knees will all thank you.
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