This One Exercise Can Make You Stronger & More Stable In No Time

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When it comes to exercising, there's arguably nothing more important than having good form—it's the best way to avoid injury and make the most of your workout. That's why we love Ian K. Smith, M.D.'s new book Clean & Lean. In addition to providing simple and effective workouts for the reader, he dedicates a large portion of the book to explaining exactly how to do the movements he's recommending. Here, he outlines how to do one of the most popular movements out there: the squat.

Let's talk about the squat. This maneuver is considered to be a compound full-body exercise that works several muscles of the body, including the thighs (quadriceps), buttocks (gluteus maximus), hamstrings, hips, and core.

We do squats many times a day in our normal movement, whether it's getting in and out of a car, sitting on a toilet, standing up from the side of the bed, or standing up out of a chair.

While bodybuilders and weightlifters use this exercise to improve strength and performance, it remains extremely beneficial for even the casual exerciser. As your strength and stability improve, you might try doing the squat with light dumbbells in your hands to add to the resistance and work of the exercise.

How to do a squat correctly:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
  • Your feet should be facing forward and your chest held up and out.
  • Keep your torso erect and sit down as if sitting in a chair and stop when you reach parallel.
  • If you want to do a more advanced squat and you don't have any joint or back problems, you might dip a little lower, to just beneath parallel.
  • Keep your hands stretched out in front of you approximately chest high.
  • Hold your squat position for three seconds, then come back up. Stand for two seconds, then squat again.

If you're ready to get moving, here's a 15-minute workout that will let you put that perfect squat form into action!

Adapted and reprinted from Clean & Lean: 30 Days, 30 Foods, a New You, by the New York Times best-selling author Ian K. Smith, M.D. Clean & Lean is available wherever books and e-books are sold.

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