There’s no doubt about it. Squats can provide an exceptional full-body workout when they’re done the right way—one that strengthens the body’s core as well as the legs and arms. However, they’re also notoriously hard to do correctly, especially for beginners.
This is a particular problem with squats because doing them the wrong way (with poor mechanics and/or too much weight) can put a sudden, unhealthy strain on the shoulders, lower back and knees. And since many people don’t have a trainer or knowledgeable workout partner spotting them, it can be difficult to know when good form is starting to go bad. Plus, if something does go wrong, the instinct to rebalance an unstable load can cause serious injuries.
Why are squats so hard to do properly? They’re actually a lot more complicated than they look. One website lists 15 different things that need to be done right for a squat to be performed correctly.
Fortunately, there are alternatives that work many of the same muscle groups and are less likely to undo what your chiropractor has already fixed.
Single Leg Glute Bridge
- Start by lying on your back with knees bent
- Extend one leg up, squeezing the glutes and lifting the hips as high as possible
- Pause, lower and repeat without letting your butt hit the ground during repetitions
Hydrants with Leg Extensions
- Start on all fours with core engaged to keep back straight
- Lift one knee up and out to the side (This is where the hydrant name comes from.)
- Extend leg out toward the back
- Return to start
- Lie on your back with knees bent and hip-width apart
- Raise your back slowly off the floor, thinking one vertebra at a time
- Tighten your glutes and hamstrings and rise until there is a diagonal line that runs
between your shoulders and your knees
- Return to the ground slowly
- Stand up straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward
- Lift up one foot while balancing on the other
- Slowly extend your lifted foot backward and let your arms hang toward the floor
- Lift the dumbbells by bending your elbows and raising your hands to either side of your chest
- Hold and then slowly lower your arms toward the floor
- Repeat dumbbell lifts
Single Leg Deadlift with Kettlebell
- Hold a kettlebell in one hand and lift your opposite foot slightly off the ground
- Lean forward and raise your leg straight behind you, keeping your back and neck neutral,
- Be careful to keep some bend in your supporting leg
- Lower the kettlebell toward the ground, but be sure that your chest never drops below the level of your hips
- Hinge your hips backward and lift the kettlebell to return to the starting position
Superman Ball Lifts
- Lie on your belly, holding an exercise ball between your feet
- Extend your arms straight out in front of you
- Engage your abs, inhale and squeeze the ball while lifting your knees, arms and chest
- Hold for ten seconds and repeat
- Start with your feet parallel and hip-distance apart
- Take a giant step forward with your torso upright, moving toward a kneeling position with your front knee aligned over your front ankle
- Bend knees no further than a 90 degree angle
- Return to the starting position, either by stepping forward with your back foot or by stepping backward with your front foot.
- Repeat, alternating legs
A Few Important Things to Keep in Mind
Always consult with your chiropractor or another qualified healthcare provider if you’re starting a new fitness program. This is especially important if you’re recovering from an injury, suspect you may have a medical condition or haven’t been physically active in a while. After you begin your program, build up the number of sets and repetitions you do as you become more comfortable with the movements and your body adapts to the new demands you’re placing upon it.
As experts in musculoskeletal health and fitness, chiropractic physicians are specially trained to help you reach your goals. Want to learn more? Just call or visit our office!