For the most elemental of human movements – sitting down and getting back up, or lifting something heavy off the ground – there is no better exercise than the squat. But form is incredibly important for preventing injury, so start with unweighted "air squats" to develop a full range of motion before adding weight.
- Stand with feet wider than shoulder width, toes splayed 30 degrees, your chest up and butt back. Weight should be on your heels, not your toes.
- Squat by pushing your butt backward, not by bending your knees forward.
- Knees should track directly over the feet, never caving inward or outward.
- Bring your thighs parallel to the floor while keeping your weight on your heels and your spine straight and solid.
- Back Squat: Once you can hold good form through 20 body-weight squats, add weight by resting an empty barbell on your back, and then add plates as you progress.