How to Squat Like a Woman
Weight lifting is not just for men. In fact, women can use weight lifting with moderate cardio and a proper diet to lose fat and preserve their calorie burning muscle. Remember, losing fat will not shape your body. If you want a more curvy athletic build you need to at least maintain, and preferably build more muscle. Weight training can help you do this.
You will not get bulky or muscular unless you are taking steroids.
In a previous article I discussed how a woman can learn to bench press. In this post you will learn how to safely ease yourself into the squat.
It's done all wrong - including the majority of guys. As a result most people don’t work their hamstrings at all, and they stress their knees way too much, which can lead to very little progress, pain and even injury.
The squat can be safe, effective and fun. I'm going to show you how.
A proper squat places the knee at about the vertical level with your big toe as seen on the picture to the right. You start by placing the bar on your upper back and grabbing it with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
Push your chest out by trying to pinch your elbows together. You should now have a tight arch in your upper back. Then with your chest up sit your butt back and down to about knee height while keeping your back tightly arched. Check out the picture above again to see the correct position
The problem is that most people don’t know how to recruit their hamstrings during the squat and as a result they lean too far forward, placing the knee too far in front of the shin as shown in the picture below.
You see this type of problem all the time when people squat using a "Smith Machine". This is a silly device that places the weight lifting bar on a fixed track, which severely limits the range of motion that you can take when you squat. This makes it pretty much impossible to sit back and properly use the hamstrings. Avoid this machine at all costs.
A Fun and Safe Way to Start Squatting Like a Champ
I've noticed that women have a lot of trouble figuring out how to “sit back” during the squat due to underdeveloped hamstring strength. The best way to work on this is to do box squats. They are fun, effective for muscle building and calorie burning, and they really help you learn how to squat safely with proper form.
To start, get a bench and a pair of 10 pound dumb bells or a 20 pound bar. I don't care how fit you are, if you jump to the 45 pound bar right away you won't be able to do the exercise correctly. Give it a week or two and you will be box squatting like a pro, and then you can transition to the bar.
As shown in my box squatting video below, you basically stand a foot or so in front of the bench with your feet a little bit wider than shoulder width. Hold the dumb bells up by your shoulders like you would if you were holding a full bar, try to pinch your elbows together (so you chest sticks out a little), squeeze your stomach, and slowly SIT BACK on the bench.
Watch the box squat video:
If you did it correctly, your knees will actually finish behind your shins (look where my knees are when I sit). To stand up, keep a nice tight arch in your back and drive your chest up first followed by your lower body. You should feel the muscles fire in your butt not your quads.
Woah! I Feel Like I'm Going to Fall Down!
At first you might feel like you are going to fall backward on the bench – this means you are doing it right. That is why we have the bench there. Sit way back and try to fire your hamstrings. In my video I purposely fell on the bench a little heavy to show you what I mean – it's safe and it means you are doing it correctly. Eventually you will be able to lower with confidence and control.
Continue working on this 1 or 2 times per week. A simple rep set scheme is 3 sets of 10 - 12. Try to increase the weight 10 - 15% each workout. When you can box squat two 20 pound dumbbells 8 times you are ready to try it with the bar.
Exercise Your Lower Back and Abs
The lower body lifts are heavily dependent on core (stomach and lower back) strength and glute (your butt) strength. Improving your strength in these areas as you learn the box squat will help you burn more calories, get stronger, and really shape your lower body. A good lower body workout would include the box squat (3 sets of 10 - 12), and 3 or 4 the above exercises each for 3 sets of 8 - 10.
Just choose a weight that you can safely lift 12 - 14 times (use a spotter at first if you are unsure) and get started!
In the next article, I will be discussing how women can safely teach themselves the third basic lift: the dead lift.
Click below to get a complete workout and nutrition guide with all these exercises and more!