If there’s one exercise routine that everyone can benefit from, irrespective of their age or fitness levels, it is the versatile squat. Squats are an excellent way to strengthen the lower body, recover knee stability, as well as prevent commonly faced injuries. And while they may seem tough to master, perfecting your squat routine adds more power to your leg, which directly improves your workout performance, particularly if you are running on irregular terrain and soft surfaces like sand.

Squats chiefly use the gluteal muscles in the body, but depending upon the variation you choose, it can also be an effective workout for your quadriceps, hip muscles, and calves, as well as your cores including the abs and lower back. A particular variation of this group of exercises that provides a great stretch to the inner thighs while working your hips, thighs and butt is the lateral squat. Essentially a combination of a squat and a lateral lunge, this stationary routine is excellent for toning the legs and improving overall balance.

Step-by-step
1. Place your hands on your hips, and stand with your feet wide apart—a little wider than shoulder-width.
2. Through a count of 10 seconds, keep your torso upright and head up as you bend down on one leg while keeping the other leg straight.
3. When you have reached the lowest you can go, hold for 2 seconds.
4. Rise up gradually to the starting position through a count of 10 seconds.
5. Without resting, switch sides. Begin with 5 reps on each side, before taking the count up to 10 on your next round.

Pro-tips: A few things to keep in mind while squatting:
– Keep your back straight throughout the exercise
– Your knees and shoulder should be aligned through the routine. Try and ensure that your knee doesn’t drop forward at your toes as that can cause an injury.
– Beginners usually begin with their feet too wide apart, which make it difficult to properly align their shinbone over the foot. As you lower into a squat, your heel, shinbone and knee should be aligned atop each other.

Variations
Once you’ve gotten your technique right, you can move on to advanced variations of the workout. If you’re looking to increase the intensity, hold a pair of dumbbells up at your shoulders with your elbows positioned directly underneath the weights. Another option is to place a barbell on the back of your shoulders.

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