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.
Stand on the floor holding dumbbells at your side with palms inward and your feet shoulder-width apart. Position your feet so that your toes are pointed straight ahead (see Photo 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. Keep your palms facing inward and the dumbbells at your sides throughout the exercise (see Photos 2 and 3).
- 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 4).