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A safer way to do squats with weight

If you like how squats tone your
butt and legs, you're probably
tempted to improve your results
by using more resistance. Before
you pick up a barbell, though, get
out your calculator.
In a recent
study published in the American
Journal of Sports Medicine
, of the
48 people performing squats with
60 or 80 percent of their one-rep
maximum (referred to as 1RM,
which is the amount of weight a
person can lift just once), all overarched
their spines, which can
lead to chronic pain. Dropping the
weight to 40 percent of their 1RM
(for instance, if their 1RM is 40
pounds, they'd lift 16) solved the
problem, but it also toned less
muscle. The solution? Perfect
your form by practicing the move
with just your body weight, then
gradually add resistance. To
maintain the proper position:

  • Look forward or slightly up.
  • Lower only until thighs are
    parallel to the floor (if you can go
    that far), knees aligned with toes.
  • Keep your chest lifted Your
    torso will naturally come forward
    slightly as you squat, but you
    shouldn't lean forward; aim for a
    90-degree bend in hips and knees.
  • Keep heels on floor.

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