You are at the gym, your trainer decides to mention squats and it is almost a guarantee you want to cry and ditch leg day but Half Squat is a mild version of full squats so you good. At least you will be able to walk out the gym and not wobble around.
Half squat is a good beginner’s workout for hamstrings, quads and glutes because for a beginner this is dreadful but to an advanced workout guy, it is a piece of cake.
HOW TO DO HALF SQUAT PROPERLY
There are a number of half squat variations, some with weights others just using the body weight, for now we shall go with body weight.
For any lower body injuries, work closely with your trainer/gym instructor for assistance.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and brace your core. This is your starting position.
- Bend at the knees and push your hips outwards. Unlike full squat, you will not hit depth with the movement but you will maintain a 45-degree angle (midway) when you push your butt backwards.
- Extend your arms in front of you.
- Push your butt out until you feel your hamstrings, quads and glutes start to contract and stretch.
- Maintain a straight back and a controlled breathing.
- Return to your starting position but do not lock your knees.
- Do 4 sets of 12-14 reps.
WHAT MUSCLES DO HALF SQUAT WORK
The quads are responsible for knee extension and they are the muscles heavily targeted when doing the Half Squat. They are located at the front of your thighs.
Quads help you walk, run and maintain a standing position. Having strong quadriceps helps you increase your endurance when running or even working out.
Stretching and activating the quads facilitate development and muscle stability.
The muscles help you do the workout as its functions include performing leg movements and mostly the sitting down motion. The hamstrings help stabilize the sitting down motion so that you do not fall. They are located at the back of the thighs.
While doing the workout, the hamstrings are activated and pick up their responsibility by stabilizing you.
Squats have a reputation to uphold when it comes to developing the glutes. The hip hinge helps push the butt out and activate the glutes muscles, which build up and develop to be that defined and curved butt.
HALF SQUAT BENEFITS
LOWER BODY DEVELOPMENT AND STRENGTHENING
For a beginner, doing the workout gradually helps build up the lower body muscles and increase stability. New mothers may also jump in the workout to help drop some weight and start working out with a simple but still effective exercise.
Strong leg muscles helps with endurance especially for athletes and body builders. Well-developed muscles have longer endurance time and stronger momentum when running or working out.
Developing the muscles is a great start to increasing muscle strength and protection against injuries.
The confidence boost can also mean physical but the best confidence boost is being able to add weights and depth to your squats. You are able to progress with your workout sessions and develop your lower body muscles more.
ALTERNATIVES TO HALF SQUAT
Lunges are a great workout for strengthening the leg muscles and increase balance and stability.
How to do it:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips. This is your starting position.
- Inhale, take a big step forward with the left foot and bend the right knee to a kneeling position. The left knee should not go past your toes and foot firmly planted on the floor.
- Bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle and it should not meet the floor. Maintain a straight back as you lower yourself.
- Push yourself up from the position by going back to your starting position as you exhale.
- The technique is to be done in a fluid motion.
- Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps on each side.
Burpees are the type of exercises that combine both strength and cardio in each motion. Lack of weights does not guarantee a less challenging workout but it is actually the opposite.
Burpees elevates the heart rate and in no time, you are sweating buckets and breathing heavily.
How to do it:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, crouch down until your hands are on the floor and knees close to the chest.
- Brace your core and jump your feet out to assume a plank position. Contract your upper body muscles to support your weight when pushing your feel out.
- Bend at the elbows and lower your upper body as if you are doing push-ups.
- Push your upper body up and jump your legs back to the crouch position.
- By now your muscles feel like they are on fire and your breathing is deep and fast.
- Stand up as if you are from doing a squat and then jump up clapping your hands above your head.
- With each rep, take a breather to calm yourself and regain your muscle strength.
- Do desired reps, at least more than 6 reps.
HALF SQUAT MISTAKES TO AVOID.
CURVED/ ROUNDED BACK
Rounded back can be described as taboo while working out. A healthy spine equals a cooperative spine that is open to posture improvement and reinforcement.
Always maintain a straight back when working out so you do not harm your back.
SQUATTING TOO DEEP
It is obvious not many trainers will agree with this but for a beginner to dig deep, the knees might give in to your body weight and get you in trouble and your thigh muscles might not be able to repeat the workout more than two reps.
Start by going midway before going full squat to build muscle confidence and strength.
It may not be an intense workout but it is a stepping-stone to having strong lower body muscles and a progressive workout.
You can start the workout at home then progress to the gym for more workout exposure.
Gain confidence on your muscles so that you can deep that squat and confidently add weights and other squat variations to your leg workouts.