Exercising is one of the best ways to improve your overall health, physique, and self-confidence.
For many women, there is an entirely new world to explore in fitness – lifting weights!
Lifting weights is one of the best ways to improve your overall strength, build muscle, and become more lean.
One of the best lifting exercises to do to improve your leg strength and shape your glutes is the squat.
For a 148 lb. woman, squatting around 65 lb. when first starting is average.
As women advance and become stronger, that number can increase to about 160 lb., which is considered an intermediate level of fitness.
However, if you’re a true beginner who hasn’t squatted, exercised, or otherwise engaged in physical activity beforehand, it’s normal to squat less than 65 lb. in the beginning.
A squat is a type of lifting technique and exercise that involves a person bending down so that their legs form a 90-degree angle, then lifting back up again using only the strength of their thighs and glutes.
A squat can be done using only a person’s own body weight, so someone will bend down while keeping their hands together or at their side.
However, the more popular form of squatting now is to add weight.
Weight can be added by using a dumbbell, which is held in front of the body while the squat is performed, or by a barbell.
The long barbell is supported on the back of the neck, with a person supporting it using both of their hands as they squat down and then back up.
To perform a proper squat using body weight:
- Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart
- Shift your weight to the back of your heels as you bend downward using your thighs
- Feel as if a string is pulling at your chest, pulling it towards the sky as you squat down
- Complete the squat once your thighs are perfectly parallel to the ground
- Stand up again slowly, making sure your chest never moves past your knees, and your knees never move past your toes
To perform a proper squat while lifting a dumbbell, follow all of these steps but start by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in your hands as you perform the exercise.
In this instance, a kettlebell might be better if you’re a beginner since they are easier to grasp.
You can also hold a dumbbell by the ends of the bell, letting the dumbbell lay vertically on your hands.
To perform a proper squat using a barbell:
- Prepare your barbell by making sure it is shoulder height to you. Stand in front of the barbell and measure it, placing it on the proper rung so that it lies horizontally level on your shoulders.
- Put the weights onto your barbell. For beginners, 65 lbs. is a good starting weight. However, if even this is too uncomfortable, you can squat with only the bar, which is a good way to work on your form and get used to doing this compound movement. This is important if you’ve never squatted before since your body will never have performed this movement. Keep in mind the bar might also be heavy, especially Olympic-sized bars.
- Stand in front of your barbell with your back facing the barbell, and put your arms behind you, grasping the bar tightly as it rests on your trapezius, or your shoulders.
- Take a step in front of the bar rack with the barbell on your shoulders.
- Squat with the barbell on your shoulders, then lift yourself back up and repeat this for however many reps you are doing.
- Once done, walk backward with the barbell on your shoulders until you can place it onto the rack behind you.
When squatting with a barbell, if you are a novice or need a spotter, make sure to have someone to help you in case you need help putting the barbell onto the rack. This can help prevent injuries and can help you gain confidence to continue to train and increase your squatting weight.
Keep in mind these are the most common types of squats performed and they are the best for beginners to help improve their form.
However, there are other variations to the squat, such as curtsy squats that are performed with the legs crossed.
Bulgarian split squats are another type of squat where one leg is placed on a bench and a person squats in front of them.
Front squats are also popular among bodybuilders, which is where the barbell is gripped in front of the chest and a person goes into a deep squat (also known as a sumo squat).
The front squat is also an incredibly powerful exercise that can help you add on weight and continue to grow stronger.
Although these are great exercises to help promote balance and strength, and improve the glutes and lower body muscles, these might not be the best exercises for beginners to do with added weight.
Practice these on your own with just your body weight before adding dumbbells or barbells.
Squatting has a wide range of benefits. Whether you’re a male or female, squatting can have benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health as well!
For starters, studies show that squatting is one of the best ways to build lower-body muscles and improve joint functioning and mobility.
This is critical for people that want to maintain flexibility in older age, as well as people who want to gain more muscles in their lower body area.
The squat targets the glutes, giving women and men a nice toned look that is great for bikinis!
The squat also targets the thigh muscles and the core muscles, since you must keep your core strong in order to properly perform a squat.
Squatting has also been shown to help improve balance and posture, since the squat is performed with the weight on the back of the heels, helping you improve your balance over time.
This is great for people that want to learn how to balance and have more strength when doing everyday activities such as cleaning, washing, and more.
Squats and weightlifting can also be used to help you stay in a certain calorie range when trying to lose weight.
Squatting has been shown to burn around 266 calories within 30 minutes of performing the exercise.
This is for a woman of around 185 pounds. Keep in mind this is only for a short, 30-minute workout, and is a great way to lose weight, stay toned, and improve your confidence!
Exercise is one of the most proven ways to help improve your mental health, getting rid of built-up cortisol, a stress hormone, within the body.
Exercising, such as lifting, can also help boost endorphins, which fight off pain and are feel-good hormones that can help improve your mood!
Exercise has also been shown to be one of the best ways to treat depression and anxiety, which is especially important for women who are more prone than men to develop these disorders (about twice as likely).
For people that are first beginning to squat, it might seem as if lifting even the bar itself or a small dumbbell feels impossible to do.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve your squat, so that you can begin to add on more weight and feel confident. Some tips to help you improve your squat include:
- Ask for help from an experienced lifter. Asking for a spotter or even getting help from a professional trainer can help you get your form just right so squatting will feel better on your joints. Keep in mind that while performing the exercise, you should not feel any pain in your heels or on your knees or back. This might indicate you are lifting wrong, so make sure to get a trained eye to help you get your form just right.
- Keep practicing! The squat is a powerful compound exercise that involves various muscle groups, so it will take some time for your body to get used to doing the movement. The more your practice, the easier it’ll be to improve.
- Add weight little by little. 5 lbs. to 10 lbs. is ideal. The more you lift, the more resistance you will be able to add.
- Start with 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps, meaning anywhere between 36 to 45 squats with around a 30-second rest in between. You can add more reps as you get stronger, and do a rep that is dedicated to squatting your maximum possible weight. Ideally, this max squatting rep should only be done once or twice a month and before your workout so you don’t feel fatigued.
- Eat protein and foods to help fuel your workout. Protein helps rebuild your muscles so that you can continue to recover after a workout, give your body the energy it needs to build new muscle, and continue training! If you need help figuring out what types of foods to eat along with your weightlifting regimen, talk to a nutritionist for help.
For the average 148 lb. female, squatting around 65 lbs. is very normal.
The more you practice your squat, the more you can lift later on.
Squatting is one of the best exercises for overall health, and it can greatly improve your overall health. It reduces stress the more you workout and also boosts feel-good endorphins to improve your mood.