Few exercises work as many different muscle groups as squats. Squats stress your core from just below your pectorals down to your toes and from the middle of your back down through your buttocks, hamstrings and calves to the muscles in the soles of your feet. Of all the muscle groups, squats apply the greatest amount of pressure on your buttocks because your glutei maximi function as the folcrum from which your body leverages weight during a squat. Isolating your buttocks -- working them from inside out and top to bottom -- is a matter of form, stance and depth.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, or wider. Turn your toes outward. The wider your stance, the less weight is centered over your thighs and the more weight is applied to your buttocks. The more you turn your toes out, the more weight is applied to the insides of your knees and the outsides of your buttocks.
Straighten your back, keep your chin up and your eyes looking parallel to the ground or slightly upward. The straighter your back, the less your back is used during a squat and the more your movement depends on your buttocks. If you lean forward, your lower back is forced to work as you come up from the squat in order to return your body to the resting position.
Bend at the knees and lower your buttocks toward the ground in a straight line. Avoid bending forward at the hips. Again, keep your back straight up and down, your chin up and your shoulders behind your knees.
Drop your buttocks below your knees. The lower you drop your buttocks, the more fully you isolate and work your glutei maximi. The beginning of a squat works your lower back and upper buttocks. A deep squats applies stress to your upper hamstrings and your lower buttocks. Beginning from the starting position and dropping to a deep squatting position works the entire spectrum of your buttocks from top to bottom.
- Squatting with weights -- for example, dumbbells or a straight bar with plates -- does not change your form, stance or depth.
- To avoid injury, always use a spotter if squatting with weight and consider the advantages of using a weight belt.
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