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The Squat

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If you aren’t squatting, then you might as well burn your gym membership card, pick up a 20-sided die, and join a Dungeons & Dragons league. Weight training clearly isn’t for you. And don’t think some substitute will cut it. The leg press, leg extension, and even the lunge can’t compare to the squat when it comes to building muscle, increasing strength, and burning fat. It’s a must- have move in any program. Unfortunately, most guys don’t know how to squat effectively and, even more important, safely. They get bad results and increase their potential for injury. We asked strong- man and strength coach Jim Smith, C.S.C.S., owner of dieselcrew.com, to outline everything you need to know for effective, powerful squatting.

1 GRAB THE BAR tightly, hands as close together as is comfortable and elbows pointed down—this will make sure your upper back is contracted. Come up under the bar, resting it on your traps, and lift it off the rack. Step backward, and stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and toes turned slightly outward [A]. Improve your form and build tree-trunk thighs

2 TAKE A DEEP breath, forcing your abs outward, and bend your hips and knees to lower your body as far as you can (try to squat to where your thighs are below parallel to the floor). Keep your posture as upright as possible and maintain the normal arch in your lower back [B].

3 BEGIN TRYING to push your feet outward—but don’t actually move them—as if you were going to spread the floor apart. When you’ve squatted as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back, contract your glutes and thighs and explode back upward to the starting position, exhaling the breath forcefully. That’s one rep.

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