Squat Workout for Beginners: How Many Squats Should You Do A Day?

A squat workout is more than just a lower body workout option. It can provide many other benefits like muscle toning, better posture, and improved coordination and balance. Here’s a primer on squats for beginners.

Studies have shown that squatting is beneficial for overall strength, balance, and health. They are an excellent form of exercise for those who need to build lower body strength or burn fat. But, that is not all there is to a good squat workout. Do you want to start squatting but don’t know how many reps you should do in a day? Or maybe you’re not sure which squat exercises are best for beginners.

In either case, you’re in the right place! Here is a primer on all things related to an ideal squat exercise routine for beginners. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about squats, their types, their benefits, and how many reps you should do each day. We’ll also provide a few beginner-friendly squat exercises and a sample plan that will help get you started on the right track. Let’s get started!

What is a squat?

A squat is a basic movement in which an individual lowers the hips until the thighs are parallel to the ground and then returns to the standing position. Squats can be performed with or without weight. 

Studies [1] have shown that squatting is beneficial for overall strength, balance, and health. Squats are an excellent form of exercise for those who need to build lower body strength. But, that is not all there is to squat workouts. 

Benefits of squats for beginners

For beginners, squatting is a great way to start developing lower body strength, overall balance and health. The squat movement uses many large muscle groups, making it an efficient exercise for beginners who want to develop strength quickly. In addition, the squatting motion helps to improve coordination.

Research [2] has also shown that squatting can help to improve joint health, making it an ideal exercise for those looking to maintain healthy joints as they age. This means that you can be of any age and still benefit from starting a regular squat workout routine.

Now let’s move on to discussing types of squats and how to do them.

Types of squats and how to do them

There are many different types of squats that you can do, and the type of squats you do will depend on your fitness level and goals. Listed below are different variations of the squat, their individual target areas, and how you can perform them:

1. The basic squat

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended at your sides. Slowly lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back straight. With your thighs parallel to the ground, hold your position. Slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.

All the while, remember to keep your leg muscles and butt muscles tight and strong to make the squat more effective. The combined range of motion and the pressure that builds on your muscles as they balance your body and hold you in that posture will make a squat the best workout for your entire lower body.

You can do the same exercise with a pair of dumbbells or barbells if you wish to add a little more intensity to your basic squat workouts.

Target areas: This squat targets the muscles in your thighs, hips, and buttocks.

2. The pulse squat

Start in the same position as the basic squat. Extend your arms straight in front of you. Lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back straight. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then pulse up and down for 30 seconds.

Target areas: Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, adductors, and core.

3. The squat jump

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands at your sides. Lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back straight. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then jump up into the air. Land softly on your feet and then lower yourself back down into the squating position.

Target areas: Hip flexors, Quads, glutes, calves, adductors, chest, and core.

4. The wall squat

Start by standing with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower yourself down the wall by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back flat against the wall. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.

Target areas: glutes, abs, quads, hamstrings, calves.

5. The sumo squat/Plié squat

Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep the arms bent, elbows pointing downwards, wrists held in a clasp in front, and your toes turned out. Lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back straight. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.

Target areas: Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, adductors, core, and back.

6. The pistol squat

Start by standing on one leg with the other leg raised in front of you. Lower yourself down by bending your knee and hip, keeping your back straight. Stop when your thigh is parallel to the ground, and then slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.

Target areas: glutes, calves, quads, core, and hip flexors.

7. The frog squat

Start by sitting on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Place your hands behind you for support and then lift your butt off the ground and move your legs out so that you are in a low squat position.

Target areas: quads, glutes, core, hamstrings.

8. The side plank squat

Start in a side plank position with your feet stacked on top of each other and your elbow directly under your shoulder. Keeping your core engaged, lower your hips down towards the ground and then press back up to the starting position. Complete all of your reps on one side before switching to the other side.

Target areas: quads, glutes, core, obliques, shoulders.

9. The jump squat

Start with your feet hip-width apart and your hands at your sides. Lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back straight. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then jump up into the air. Land softly on your feet and then lower yourself back down into the squat position.

Target areas: quads, glutes, calves, core.

10. Front squat

Start by holding a barbell in front of your shoulders with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.

Target areas: quads, glutes, core.

11. Back squats

Start by holding a barbell across your upper back with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.

Target areas: quads, glutes, core, hamstrings.

12. Goblet squat

To start a goblet workout, stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a weight close to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your sides. From here, push the hips down slowly by bending at the knees and hips. Keep your back straight and core engaged. When your thighs are parallel to the ground, pause for a moment before pressing back up. This squat works multiple muscle groups to give your body an all-over workout.

Target areas: quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, shoulders.

13. The box squat

Start by standing in front of a box or bench with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips, stopping when your glutes touch the box. Pause for a moment, and then rise back up.

Target areas: quads, glutes, calves.

14. Cossack squat

A cossack squat is a great way to work your inner and outer thighs. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step to the right and lower yourself down into a squat. Keep your left leg straight and your right heel lifted. Keep your arms extended for balance. Pause for a moment, and then come back to the standing position.

Target areas: inner and outer thighs, glutes.

15. Overhead squat

This squat is a great way to work your shoulders, chest, and core. Start by holding a barbell overhead with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, lower yourself down by bending your knees and hips. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.

Target areas: quads, glutes, shoulders, chest, core.

A sample squat workout routine for beginners

When it comes to squatting, there are a lot of different variations that you can do to target different muscle groups. But if you’re just starting out, it’s important to keep it simple and focus on mastering the basic squat.

Once you have the basic squat down, you can start adding in different variations to keep your workouts interesting and challenging. Here is a combination of some of the above squat exercises in a sample workout plan:

ExerciseRepsDuration
Basic Squats for Warm-up2030 Seconds
Cossack Squats2030 Seconds
Sumo Squats2030 Seconds
Pistol Squats2030 Seconds
Jump Squats2030 Seconds

Start with two sets of each exercise and rest for 60 seconds in between sets. As you get stronger, you can add more sets and/or reps to the workout.

The benefits of doing squat workout daily

Regularly doing squats can offer several benefits for your lower body, upper body, and core. For your lower body, squats can help to strengthen your legs and improve your range of motion.

Lower body

Squats are a great exercise for toning and strengthening the lower body, and they can be done just about anywhere. In addition to benefits like increased flexibility and strength in the hips, thighs, and calves, squats can also help to improve muscle definition and prevent injury. They can also help to improve balance and coordination.

Even a few squats each day can make a big difference in your overall fitness level. Plus, since they are such a versatile exercise, you can easily customize your Exercise routine to target different muscle groups. Whether you’re looking to boost your athletic performance or just want to look good in jeans or shorts, regular squats should definitely be part of your workout routine.

Upper body

Squats engage the core and improve strength, flexibility, range of motion, and stability in the trunk and upper body. When done with weights, squats can also help to tone your arms and shoulders.

In certain formats, squats work the muscles in your upper areas of the body, including your back, chest, shoulders, and arms, and also improve balance and spine health. They also increase flexibility, strength, and stamina. Squats also help to tone the muscles in your torso and shape the buttocks.

Core

Squats engage the core muscles resulting in better muscle tone and strength in the abdominal region. Consequently, they also help to improve balance and stability. In addition, the impact of squats on the core and the upper sections of the body promotes cardiovascular [3] fitness and helps the body’s respiratory and digestive systems at their optimum capacity and health.

Spine

Squats also help to improve the health of your spine and improve your posture. Additionally, the increased flexibility and range of motion in your spine that results from squatting can help to prevent back pain.

Joints

Squats can also help to improve the health of your joints. The increased flexibility and range of motion in your hips, knees, and ankles can help to prevent joint pain and stiffness. Additionally, the impact of squatting can help to improve the health of your cartilage and connective tissues.

Aches and pains

Squats can relieve aches and pains in the lower body. By stretching and strengthening the muscles in the hips, thighs, and calves, squats can help to relieve pain in these areas. Additionally, the impact of squatting can help to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation.

Balance

Squats can also help to improve your balance. The act of squatting helps to engage the muscles in your trunk and lower body, which can help to improve your balance and coordination. Additionally, the increased flexibility and range of motion in your joints can also help to improve your balance.

Coordination

Squats can also help to improve your coordination. The act of squatting requires the use of multiple muscle groups in coordination with each other. Additionally, the increased flexibility and range of motion in your joints can also help to improve your coordination.

Abdominal muscles and digestive system

Squats help tone the abdominal muscles and improve the function of the digestive system. As a result, your body can better process food and absorb nutrients. Additionally, the increased blood flow to the abdominal region can also help to improve digestion. The act of squatting helps to engage the muscles in the trunk and abs, which can help to tone the abdominal muscles.

Weight loss

Squats can also help you lose weight. The act of squatting helps to increase your heart rate and burn calories. Additionally, the increased muscle tone and improved digestion that results from squatting can help to boost your metabolism.

Common mistakes made when doing squats

More often than not, people tend to make mistakes while trying to do squats. Such errors, whether big or small, can result in minor to serious injuries. Here are 6 common mistakes people commit while doing squats:

1. Squatting too deep

One of the most common squat mistakes is squatting too deep. This puts unnecessary stress on the knees and can lead to joint pain or other knee injuries. When squatting, make sure to lower yourself only until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Any further than that, and you risk injuring your knees.

If you want to do a deep squat, try doing a pistol squat or a sumo squat instead. Pistol squats are a single-leg squat variation that allows you to safely squat deeper than a traditional squat.

To do a pistol squat, start by standing on one leg with the other leg extended straight out in front of you. Then, lower yourself down into a squat position on the standing leg. Once your thigh is parallel to the floor, stand back up and repeat. Sumo squats are another great option for those looking to squat deeper. 

To do a sumo squat, start by standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing outwards. Then, lower yourself down into a squat position by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, stand back up and repeat. These squat variations are great for building strength and mobility in the legs and hips.

2. Squatting with incorrect form

Another common mistake people make when squatting is using incorrect form. Remember to keep your chest up, shoulders back, and knees in line with your feet as you squat down. It is also important to keep your back straight throughout the entire movement.

If you find yourself rounding your back or collapsing forward as you squat, try using a weightlifting belt to help keep your spine in alignment. Additionally, exhale as you squat down and inhale as you stand back up. This will help keep your core engaged and prevent your back from rounding.

3. Not using enough weight

If you are not using enough weight, you will not see the results you want from your squats. To effectively build strength and muscle, you need to challenge your muscles by using a weight that is heavy enough to fatigue them.

If you are new to squatting, start with a bodyweight squat. Once you can do 20-30 reps with good form, add a dumbbell squat or barbell squat to your workout routine. Choose a weight that allows you to do no more than 12 reps with good form. If you find yourself struggling to squat with proper form, try using a lighter weight until you build up the strength and mobility to do a heavier squat.

4. Holding your breath

One of the most important things to remember when squatting (or doing any type of exercise) is to breathe. Holding your breath can cause your blood pressure to spike, which can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, or even fainting.

Make sure to exhale as you squat down and inhale as you stand back up. This will help to keep your blood pressure regulated and prevent you from getting lightheaded or dizzy. If you find yourself getting short of breath, take a break and catch your breath before continuing.

5. Bouncing at the bottom of the squat

Bouncing at the bottom of the squat is a common mistake people make when they are using too much weight. When you reach the bottom of the squat, your muscles are under the most tension. If you try to bounce out of this position, you are putting yourself at risk for injury.

To avoid bouncing, use a weight that you can control throughout the entire squat. Additionally, make sure to exhale as you reach the bottom of the squat and inhale as you stand back up. This will help to keep your muscles engaged and prevent you from bouncing.

6. Going up too fast

Yet another common mistake people make when squatting is going up too fast. When you stand up too quickly, you are using momentum to help you lift the weight, which takes the tension off of your muscles. To effectively build strength and muscle, you need to use slow and controlled motion. Again, focus on your breathing to keep your muscles engaged as you squat.

Tips to avoid injury when doing squat exercises

It is very easy to injure oneself when doing any type of exercise. Squats, in particular, can be hard on the knees if not done correctly. Here are a few tips to help avoid injury when doing squat exercises:

  • Warm up before you start squatting.
  • Start with bodyweight squats and progress to weighted squats.
  • Make sure you have good form. Don’t arch your back or let your knees go past your toes.
  • Don’t go too heavy too soon.
  • Wear supportive shoes and work out in a safe environment.
  • Stop if you feel any pain.
  • Don’t hold your breath.
  • Focus on using your glutes and quads, not your lower back.
  • Don’t lock your knees at the top of the squat.
  • Cool down and stretch after your workout.

When done correctly, squat exercises can be a great way to tone and build muscle in your lower body. If you follow the above tips, you can minimize your risk of injury and maximize your results.

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