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How to Get More Out of a Squat

How to Make Squats Harder

Squats are to your legs and tush as push-ups are to your arms and core — you've got to be one with the squat if you want to tone your lower body. The basic move is hard enough, but here are some ways to make it even more challenging.

  • Target different muscles in your lower body with yoga variations including Open Side Fierce where you twist your torso, or Goddess with your legs wide (also called Sumo Squat).
  • Raise one heel at a time as you lift and lower your hips. Also try lifting both heels together, either during the squat or at the very end when you come up to target your calves and strengthen your sense of balalnce.
  • Instead of lifting and lowering your bum, hold the lowered squat position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Work one side at a time by lifting one leg (to get legs like Cameron Diaz).
  • Do more reps. With this plan you can build up to 200 in just four weeks.
  • Make it a multi-tasking move for your upper and lower body by lifting dumbbells while you squat — try overhead presses and hammer curls.
  • After working your quads, hamstrings, and glutes doing squats, it's nice to do some squat stretches. Lower your bum all the way down, widen your stance so your feet are shoulder-width distance apart, and hold a Wide Squat. This will open your hips and stretch out your calves. Or you can do a Bound Wide Squat to get all the benefits of a Wide Squat, but it will also open your chest and shoulders, and increase flexibility in your spine.
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