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Improve your conditioning with ... The Muscle Move of the Month!

By Kate Kane-Joyce

(Before beginning any exercise or diet program, please be sure to consult with your physician.)

I. The Squat

The squat is a compound exercise, meaning it involves more than one group of muscles, the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. It is one of the "big three" powerlifting exercises (including bench press, and deadlift), but its results are beneficial for even weekend warriors. Because the squat is such a basic movement, you will find that learning to perform it correctly will improve function for every day life, from lifting boxes to climbing stairs.

Start with your feet placed shoulder-width apart, with your toes turned slightly outward. Keeping your abdominals pulled in, look up and with back straight, lower your hips down and a little behind you, as if you were sitting in a chair (you may want to extend your arms straight out in front for balance). Stop downward movement when thighs are parallel to the floor. Push up through your heels, being careful to keep your back very straight, chin up. Repeat for two sets of eight to ten repetitions, for beginners.

You may find proper form is more easily achieved by placing a bench behind you.

Try to keep a good deal of weight concentrated in the heel of your foot, as opposed to the toe. This will take a degree of stress off of the knee joint and put it into the muscle, where it belongs!


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