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RealJock Staff

This exercise provided courtesy of Mike Clausen, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.

Squats are probably the most useful exercise you can do at the gym—no other single exercise encourages more muscle growth. With a range of motion that incorporates many different muscle groups in the legs, core and upper body, squats not only strengthen those muscles, but also strengthen the tendons and ligaments that connect them. In addition to their strength-building benefits, squats also teach you core stabilization, which is important for almost any athletic endeavor.

Muscles worked
Legs and entire body

Starting position
Stand on the floor with your arms up at the sides of your head with elbows bent, your hands gently cupping the sides of your head, and your feet shoulder-width apart. Position your feet so that your toes are pointed straight ahead (see photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, slowly lower down to a fully squatted position, pulling your weight down through your leg muscles as you descend. Keep your weight back on your heels as you go down. Push your chest out very slightly in front of you to counterbalance the heavy load on your heels (see Photos 2, 3 and 4).
  2. When you have reached the depth of the squat, reverse motion and drive up through your heels to return to the starting position (see Photo 5).
Dumbbell variation
The dumbbell variation of the squat is similar to the weights-free squat. To do the dumbbell variation, hold dumbbells in each hand at your sides, with palms inward. Follow these guidelines for the squatting and standing portion of the exercise:
  1. As you squat down, slightly twist the dumbbells so that your palms turn to the back, and hold the dumbbells slightly out on front of you to counter balance the heavy load on your heels.
  2. When you stand back up from the squat, twist the dumbbells in reverse so that your palms turn inward, and dumbbells are at your side, and you retract your shoulders as you reach the starting position.
About Mike Clausen: Clausen is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body Personal Training and Wellness Center, which was voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. He has been actively involved in sports and weightlifting since high school, and continues to use that knowledge when training his clients. Clausen is both A.C.E. and N.A.S.M. certified and has been training clients professionally for six years. He enjoys making his clients stronger, both physically and mentally, giving them the tools to create an efficient body and to do things they thought were not possible.