How to do a proper Squat!

Squats are a great way to incorporate bodyweight resistance muscle strengthening into your workout routine. Bodyweight squats work your abs, glutes (or butt), quads (the front of your thigh), hamstrings (the back of your thighs), and your calves! We love squats because it also helps your body better perform activities of daily life (ADLs) like getting up out of a chair or picking something up off the floor. So, let’s learn how to do a proper squat!


  • Stand with your feet at least hip-width apart.
  • Point your toes forward.
  • Roll those shoulders back and open your chest.
  • Engage your core.
  • Push your hips back and …
  • Drop your glutes (butt) towards the ground.
  • *Keep your chest tall!
  • *Make sure your knees stay over your ankles throughout the exercise!

Common Mistakes:

  • Pushing your knees past your ankle! Don’t add this extra knee strain.
  • Widening your knees past your hips! You want your knees to stay hip-width apart (unless you’re performing a wide stance squat)!
  • Bringing your knees inward! You want a nice straight line between your hips, knees, and ankles.
  • Feet your heels off the ground/keeping pressure on the toes. If anything, you want to put pressure on your heels. You can make sure your weight is distributed correctly by rocking back just a bit onto your heels while picking your toes up before starting a set of squats!


  • Aren’t ready for a full squat?! That’s okay! Try squatting over a chair and barely touching your glutes (butt) to the chair before rising back up. This can add some extra security if you aren’t used to doing squats comfortably yet!
  • Want to up the ante?! Add some weight! This doesn’t have to be bar presses or weights but can be as easy as a bag of rice, some cans from the pantry, or a backpack with something heavy.

How to Start:

  • Start with bodyweight squats! Adding weight is OPTIONAL and should only be done after you can easily do multiple sets of 8-12 repetitions.
  • Begin with 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. [ 1 repetition = 1 squat; 1 set = 8-12 repetitions]


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The Social and Health Research Center