Squat workout is one of the most necessary functional movements in human life. Just think how many times you perform this fundamental movements during a day:
(i) Getting up from a couch or chair
(ii) Getting out of bed
(iii) Lifting something up from the ground
(iv) Getting out of a car or bed
These are a few examples, I’m sure, now you get an idea about the importance of this functional movement in your day-to-day life.
Squats – The Most Important Exercise For Seniors!
For the reason that the squat movement is used so often in your daily routine, it becomes critical to build and maintain a strong foundation to support this fundamental movement pattern. Being unable to do so would lead to limitation in the range of this pattern of movement, in other words weakening of the muscles we need to sit down and stand up safely. Consequently, your body mechanism in order to compensate will start using other muscles to perform everyday movements – and that should not happen.
Because of these compensatory movements, your other body parts are subject to overloading – which would over a period of time result into loss of your ability to sit down and stand up on your own. It will happen even without your knowing it, and then you lose your ability to live independently.
Just walking does not help much in building or maintaining lower body strength or preserving the important muscle tissues, which otherwise weaken and shrink with age and inactivity. It happens with most of us, unless we have been spending good amount of time walking up and down the hills or stairs.
My Number 1 Exercise For Older Adults – A Set Of Squats!
That is why I encourage my clients to do squat exercise. If you do squat workout regularly, it will work as a very beneficial lower body strengthening exercise because it recruits most of the larger muscles in the legs – hamstrings, quads, glutes, etc. Learn here its correct form and step-by-step movements with a video.
Squat Form – Step-By-Step Movements!
If you want to include squats into your exercise routine, here is an exclusive step-by-step guide for you – explaining how to do squats correctly?
(i) Stand with placing your feet at a comfortable width – hip distance apart is better for some, and slightly wider works for others – toes pointing forward.
Note: Make sure that both your feet point in the same direction, and not one pointed slightly out. This helps protect your hips, providing a solid base.
(ii) While looking straight forward, chest up, and keeping heels planted, push your buts (hips) back to lower into a squat. Maintain your knees in line over your ankles and don’t allow them to cave inward (to ensure this, just think as pushing them out slightly). Raise your arms straight out forward from your shoulders to help maintain balance. If you experience difficulty in balancing, hold on to something sturdy – for example a table or wall.
Squat as far as you can comfortably, and then after a little pause (1-2 seconds), while pushing through your heels, rise back to the start position.
Note: Remember that you should begin the movement by pushing your buts (hips) backward, and never by bending your knees & shifting your body weight over to your toes. Make sure your feet remain flat on the ground and your chest up, pointing forward.
Watch this video to learn correct “Squat Movements”
Tips For Seniors To Do Squats
(a) While doing (or after finishing with squats), do you experience (other than slight muscle fatigue) pain in any area or joint of your body? Are your knees moving inward or heels rising up off the ground? Does your back hunch over while executing squat movements? If any of these is happening, you need to make squat exercise easier for you (as mentioned below).
(b) If you don’t feel any of the things mentioned as in (a) above and you can maintain proper form, continue with this basic body weight squats workout. When you can perform at least 2 sets of 10-15 reps without experiencing any pain or muscle soreness for a week or so then consider making it a slightly more challenging (as mentioned below).
Tips For Seniors Who Want To Make Squats Easier
If you have any knee problem, which hurt your knees when you squat, then begin your squats from a seated position. It’s an easy chair exercise. Simply sit down on a chair and plant your feet flat on the floor. While keeping your chest up, knees out, just push up a few inches (as much as you can comfortably). But remember, as soon as you feel any tension – halt pushing up and sit down. Even by doing this small movement regularly, you can still gain strength in your legs, hips and core.
Gradually over a period of time, increase your range of motion and do this movement regularly until you are able to stand up completely. Then keep on doing it regularly.
Tips To Make Squats Harder
If you have established doing body squats in a smooth, pain free, good form and have been doing for few days then only think of increasing the intensity. Aim for safety first, always! You can increase the intensity by:
(i) More Reps: Do more total repetitions. If you have been comfortable in performing 3 sets of 10 reps each set (total 30 reps); start performing more reps – say 3 sets of 15 reps each (total 45) or 4 sets of 8 reps each (total 32 reps).
(ii) Add Weight: While doing squats, you can hold dumbbells, kettlebell or medicine ball.
(iii) Change Tempo: Take 2-3 seconds to lower down, pause a little at the bottom, and then push up your body slowly. This way your muscles work under tension differently and for longer duration.
If you have any questions, please ask under the comments section below. And, also we will love to hear any tips from you.