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Basic isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it comes to working out. In fact, Melissa Eckman, founder of MelisFit, shares that basic bodyweight exercises are a great way to tone—and what could be more basic than squats? Plus, since they don’t require any equipment (unless you’re looking to up the ante), you can do them pretty much anywhere, like in a tiny NYC apartment while watching TV. “Anything that activates your glutes is going to help you build muscle and tone your butt,” she tells Byrdie.
To find out just how well squats really work, we also reached out to modelFit trainer Sarah Rector and DB Method founder Erika Rayman. Keep scrolling for their suggestions on how often to do the exercise, which common mistakes to avoid, and exactly which muscles are working when it’s done correctly.
Do Squats Really Help Your Butt?
In a word, yes. “Squats help with strengthening the muscles as well as toning the hamstrings and glutes,” says Rector. “It’s like anything: The more regularly you do squats, the more results you will see.”
Rayman adds, “If done correctly and targeting the right muscle groups, they should tone, tighten, and lift your bum.” The result: your own perky shape.
How Often Should You Do Squats?
Rector recommends introducing squats into your daily routine by starting with 20 a day and then gradually increasing. “I’m all about less is more at the beginning,” she says. “Going in too hard (too many) can scare you away. Maybe doing fewer squats but more often works best for you. Everyone is different in terms of our bodies, fitness goals, and our mentality, so find and stick to a squat routine that works best for you.”
What’s the Correct Way to Do Squats?
“When you think about the actual squat motion, it’s like sitting down on a chair and getting back up off a chair,” explains Rector. She also suggests following these rules:
- Don’t place your knees over your toes as you bend into the squat.
- Don’t just tilt the body forward with minimal knee bend.
- Don’t just stick your butt (glutes) out.
- Don’t arch your back.
- Don’t keep your head down.
What Kind of Equipment Is Great for Squats?
Over time, adding equipment to your squats such as hand weights, kettlebells, and even resistant ankle bands will help to increase the movement and thus the level of squat difficulty.
Rayman prefers the “DB method” (short for “dream butt”). The machine offers four ranges of squats: full, low, mid, and high. “When you vary these ranges, you end up targeting every minute muscle needed to achieve that ass-pirational booty.”
Added benefits of the machine, according to Rayman:
- It shifts the weight from the overused quad muscle and activates the glute muscles. You’re retraining your body to use more of your glutes over quads.
- It allows you to go into a deeper squat than if you’re unassisted.
- It does not allow you to overextend your knees over your feet.
- It doesn’t strain your back. Instead, it helps strengthen and stabilize your spine.