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Squats are some of the most common weight and strength training exercises performed by people of all fitness levels and abilities; they may be done with a weight held in the arms behind the shoulders, or without the weight for people who are just starting out. There are numerous benefits of squats when they are performed correctly, and these benefits are for the entire body, not just the legs. Squats do help to tone and build muscles in the legs, of course, but they also strengthen the back, abs, and even the shoulders if a weight is used. More of the most often cited benefits of squats are their ability to improve overall balance and coordination, as well as improve performance in sports.
The most important thing to remember when performing squats is to do them with correct form. This will not just help increase their benefit, but will prevent injury. It is important to keep the back straight, not to arch the lower back or to round the upper back, and to keep the neck straight by looking straight ahead, not down to the ground. When bending, the knees should not extend out over the feet, and the feet should be firmly planted about hip width apart.
When performed correctly, the benefits of squats are tremendous. The biggest benefit is increasing the strength of the muscles in the legs, including the calves and the knees. They also help to tone the legs, making them more shapely and attractive. This increased strength can benefit all other activities, from playing contact sports to participating in activities like bicycling or running. It increases the muscles' ability to respond more quickly, which is important in many different types of sports and athletic activities. In addition, performing squats improves balance and coordination, which may help to prevent injuries, when combined with the increased overall strength.
Other benefits of squats may include weight loss and toning over the whole body. Though aerobic exercise and dietary changes are some of the most important lifestyle changes for significant weight loss, any type of exercise can contribute to weight loss and toning. When performed with weights, the benefits of squats are even more numerous, and can help to strengthen the back, arms and shoulders, and even the abs, which are working hard to keep the spine in a straight line and lift the weight. Nearly all strength training programs will include squats, for all of these reasons and others.