How to Properly Squat: A Step by Step Guide

Squats are a strength building exercise that mimics many of the natural movements of the body. According to, squats are a compound exercise that works the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. It can make real improvements to your training regiment, whether you’re a professional athlete or just trying to get in shape for the summer. Yet, some people have fears about doing squats because they don’t want to hurt their knees. That’s why it’s important to learn the proper technique for performing the squat. Start with just your body weight. If you get it right, then you’ll have no problem moving onto variations like jumping squats, pistol squats and squats with free weights.

Step 1
Start with your feet just wider than your hips and your palms facing inward.

Step 2
Breathe in and brace yourself by engaging the abdominal, or core muscles. Keep your chin and chest up, then push your hips outward toward the wall behind you. Most of your weight should press down through your heels into the floor.

Step 3
Hinge first at the hips and then at the knees. As you push out the hips, the knees bend and slowly lower yourself toward the floor. Try not to let your knees protrude too far in front of your toes. Keep your back flat and swing your arms slightly forward to naturally help you with balance.

Step 4
Continue to drop your body towards the floor until your thighs are just about parallel to the floor. Try to avoid letting your heels come off the floor. Pay close attention to the positioning of your knees (that they don’t go far beyond the front of the toes) and the feet (that they don’t come off the floor).

Step 5
For the upward phase, inhale slowly. Push the front of your feet into the floor and thrust your body upward, back toward the starting position. Keep the heels firmly planted and allow the knees and hips to flex together.

Step 6
Perform 7 to 10 repetitions of the bodyweight squat. Be ever mindful of your form and your breathing. Breathe in on the way down and breathe out on the way up. Take a 60 to 90 second break in-between sets and repeat these steps for 2 or 3 sets.

According to Pete McCall, an ACE-certified health and fitness expert – “any movement like the squat which involves multiple joints is a specific skill or task that takes time to learn correctly.” Before you try it out yourself, consult with a fitness professional or watch a tutorial online. Take it step by step and soon you’ll see the results you’re really after.