The second most popular plastic surgery procedure these days? Butt implants! Why are women (and men) doing this to themselves when they can squat (into plastic surgery? better start with Botox ). A Russian Squat Program will tighten and lift your glutes, strengthen your quads and hamstrings, and slim your hips. What woman doesn’t want that?
Some particularly wonderful side effects having nothing to do with vanity include better, more confident posture and a new way of moving while doing everything from walking to chores.
There is – literally – no downside to a Russian Squat Program. Let’s begin.
Proper squats should not hurt your back. If you already have back pain or if you are new to weight training, you should definitely be smart and proactively protect your back. Try “Prevent Back Pain with 5 Steps” as a foundation to your Russian Squat Program.
Saying that a core or pilates program is a great supplement to any endeavor is not an overstatement. A strong core is a foundation for life and is a big part of preventing back pain as outlined above. There are a lot of exercises out there to strengthen the core and abdominals, but pilates is the system that was built from the core out. To see if pilates is right for you (and it is), take “Pilates: Strength & Stamina Transformation.”
Technically a Russian Squat involves a squat with weights, whether with dumbbells or racked on a bar placed across your shoulders or with a kettlebell. All of these will produce results and once you’ve established your squat, you should experiment with which technique you will like to practice.
How to establish your squat? It doesn’t look tough, but air squatting (aka body-weight squats) is the best way to get your squat down, and the best way to correct form flaws if you ever slide into any.
Performing a Bodyweight Squat
1. Stand with integrity. If your standing posture is out-of-whack, your squat will be as well. And with repetition, what’s called the “kinetic chain” will be disrupted and cause injury and pain. Correct standing posture is as follows:
- feet hip-width apart (common mistake is thinking your hips are wider than they are and having too wide a stance)
- calves are slightly, slightly rotated in while thighs are slightly, slightly rotated out. This is subtle.
- pelvis/hips are neutral – no “duck butt” or exaggerated tuck
- spine reaches straight up
- shoulders are slightly pinned back (inhale shoulders up to ears and exhale quickly, dropping them down the back. Keep them there)
- chest slightly out
- neck in line with the spine
- move chin back so it doesn’t jut forward (a common postural misalignment
Lost with these cues? Time to go back to the basics. It will be time well-spent! “Improve Your Posture NOW”.
2. Widen feet by about an inch. Turn toes out
3. Breathe – start your inhale. Wait, breathing is important – let’s talk about it! Deep, easy breathing calms your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system responsible for your “fight or flight” response. Deep breathing calms the parasympathetic nervous system, a calm parasympathetic nervous system signals to the body that it’s ok to relax and stick with what you’re asking it to do, a body that’s relaxed and focused will perform and perform well!
4. Bend at the knees, sticking bum out like you’re going to sit in a chair that’s a bit behind you
5. Keeping 75% of your weight in your heels, continue to bend at the knees which brings your bum down
6. Hands can stay on hips or extend straight out in front of you level with the shoulders
7. Knees press outward as you lower down. In other words, do not allow your knees to collapse inward. Your chest will naturally come forward but it’s important to keep your back ramrod straight and your shoulders down (keeping your shoulders up by the ears overuses the relatively small muscles of the upper trapezoids and will drastically limit your capacity once you add weight).
8. When you’ve squatted down to your max, you should be at the end of your inhale. Hold squatting position for a beat with full lungs.
9. Press again through your heels and exhale as you straighten your legs and come back up to standing. A reminder to be aware of keeping your knees pressing outward.
A note that it is this part of the squatting action – the return to standing – that will give you that butt. So when you’re all the way down with your knees bent for a second, think, “glutes!!” and engage those bad boys as you “explode” up.
Let’s talk about this term “explode”, as trainers will use it often. It doesn’t mean, “to combust”, it means to move confidently with a very strong intention. Frequently the action that you’re being asked to do “explosively” is the most important part for results.
Congratulations – you’ve completed a Russian Squat and are on your way to a stronger butt!
To make it a full program, those complimentary exercises are key. We’ve already talked about a strong core. Core exercises should be done throughout your workout but especially in the beginning to make sure you’re activating your core through the entire workout. If you’re not going the pilates route, you should carefully put together your core-strengthening routine. Although dynamic, something like “Hoop Core Fitness” probably won’t cut it. Also, crunches are out due to their proven ineffectiveness and proclivity for causing neck injuries. Many core exercises used in yoga classes are a great idea. They are done slowly so that you activate many core muscles at once. And there’s nothing wrong with having yoga abs and a squat butt.
Deadlifts are the next step for that incredible bum and the amazing benefits. Keeping in mind what you’ve learned here, look at “How To Deadlift: The Ultimate Strength Exercise”.
Supplementing these strength workouts with cardio bursts will burn fat. Since you are most likely in a gym to have all the Russian Squat Program tools, you can use other common equipment for cardio bursts. Examples include: picking up a slam ball and doing 25 wall throws or a tabata round on the treadmill. 50 split squats or mountain climbers take no extra equipment but are very challenging!
Taking a full 10 minutes to stretch after your program should be built in – every time without exception. Of course, stretches that target lengthening the hamstrings will be particularly effective. The best stretch after a Russian Squat workout involves a partner: laying on a table or the floor, extend both legs and flex both feet. Have your partner pick up your right leg and bring it toward your nose. Alert them when you feel a good stretch in the hamstrings. Hold here for at least 30 seconds, then slightly bend your knee and have your partner move your leg just a little bit farther for a few seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
Make sure you also do some glute and hip stretches such as “Thread the Needle” or “Pigeon Pose”.