A variation of normal squats, side to side squats is a bodyweight exercise that focuses mainly on your lower body but also your upper body including your core obliques and arms.
How to do a side-to-side squat:
Required equipment: none.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel to one another. This is your starting position.
- Slowly and in a controlled motion, lower your body and bend your knees to about a ninety-degree angle
- Ensuring to put most of your weight on your heels and not on your toes and slightly moving your upper body up as if you were sitting on a chair.
- Make sure to keep your chest and head upright, and that your knees do not go beyond your toes.
- Hold this position for about three seconds. Take a wide step to the left and bring your right leg closer to have your feet a bit beyond shoulder width.
- Press your heels into the ground and rise back up straightening your hips and legs back to the starting position.
- Repeat the same but now while in the squat position move to the right side.
- Repeat this whole motion for ten reps counting a rep only when you go back to your starting position for two sets.
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
To avoid injury unlike weighted squats do not lower your hips below your knees cause over time this leads to minor knee injuries due to strain.
WHAT MUSCLES DO SIDE TO SIDE SQUATS WORK?
Side to side squats is a workout that focuses on strengthening your outer thighs, calves and glutes. Increasing your lower body strength and power, also making your lower body more toned.
BENEFITS OF DOING SIDE TO SIDE SQUATS
STRENGTHENS YOUR LOWER BODY MUSCLES
The exercise works your outer thighs as you move to press down from side to side, it also heavily relies on your thighs and glutes to lower and lift your body during a squat.
As you flex these muscles while doing the movement they get torn down and later repair themselves stronger and denser.
PROVIDES A GREAT CARDIO WORKOUT
Side to side squats requires you to move around much more than regular squats this pushes your heart rate up causing you to burn calories in the movement, leading to noticeable weight loss over time.
MAKES YOUR KNEES MORE STABLE
Side to side squats helps you to boost your bone mineral density which makes your bones stronger and adds strength and longevity of mostly your spine and lower body.
HELPS IMPROVE YOUR FLEXIBILITY AND RANGE OF MOTION
Regularly doing the exercise helps limber you up, for as you grow older your muscle fibers, ligaments and tendons become less elastic and side to side squats help slow down this process and even sometimes slightly reverse it.
ALTERNATIVES TO DOING SIDE TO SIDE SQUATS
Done as a variation of a regular lunge, walking lunges take the benefits of a stationary lunge to the next level.
The exercise works your calves, glutes, hamstrings and hips as primary muscles but also works your obliques, quadriceps and core as secondary muscles.
The walking that is the variation to the stationery lunge provides more cardiovascular benefits due to it getting your heart rate up.
How to do a walking lunge:
Required equipment: none.
- Begin by standing upright with your hands holding onto the side of your hips and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take a step forward with your left leg placing your weight onto your toes and heel.
- Bend your left knee to make a ninety-degree angle. Simultaneously, lower your body down so that your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Also bend your right leg down placing your weight on your toes. Have your shin parallel to the floor while making a ninety-degree angle with your thigh.
- Keeping your left leg stationary, push forward with the toes and heels of your right foot and bring it forward. Immediately bend it as it makes contact with the ground.
- As you also bend down your left leg until your knee is about an inch or two off the ground.
- Pause for about two seconds when you reach the bottom position repeating this walking motion.
- Repeat this for fifteen reps in a set of three.
You could make the workout more intense for yourself by using dumbbells or weights you are comfortable with, holding them in each hand as you do the movement.
This is a weighted exercise that mainly works your lower body but also works your triceps in lifting the weight off the ground.
How to do a Romanian deadlift
Required equipment: two dumbbells or a kettlebell.
- Holding your two preferred weight dumbbells in your hands as your palms face your body.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Compress your hips back and lower your upper body bending at the waist.
- Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the workout. Lower the weight towards the ground lowering them to about halfway down your shin.
- Squeeze your glutes and thighs to return to the standing position.
- Repeat the motion for ten reps in a set of three.
It is tempting to use your arms to help bring the weights back up. However, restrain from this for it reduces the full impact the exercise has on its targeted muscles and will impede the results
SIDE TO SIDE SQUATS MISTAKES TO AVOID
HAVING WRONG FORM
Most people round their back to try to ease some of the load from their legs and drop their shoulders forward. As well as letting their knees go beyond their toes.
All these mistakes in form could lead to multiple bodily injuries in not only your back and knees but also your shoulders as well.
BEGINNING THE MOVEMENT FROM THE KNEE
This is a common mistake that generated maximum strain on the quadriceps instead of the glutes, while simultaneously increasing the risk of a knee injury occurring.
KNEES CROSSING THE TOES
A common mistake as well is standing in a position in which as you squat your knees surpass your toes will lead to injuries occurring in your knees and spine.
Side to side squats is quite an easy and very effective exercise to incorporate into your workout routine, that strengthens your lower body. It requires no equipment and very little space to execute.