6 Different Ways to Squat

Squats are one of the most effective exercises you can do, but they are also one of most poorly performed exercises in regard to form. If you struggle with your form but still want to gain the many benefits of a squat, here are a few good options to build your strength.

Squat Graphic

Air Squat

This is as simple as a squat comes. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, with your feet pointed slightly outward. You don’t want them pointed directly ahead. Keeping your knees too close together will cause knee strain; too wide of a stance can cause issues for the MCL and patella. As you bend your knees, keep your back straight and pretend you are about to sit in a chair. Your weight should be in your heels.

Do a quick check and be sure your knees have not gone in front of your toes – once your knees are in front of your toes, your form is compromised and you are at a higher risk of injury. Be sure to keep your core tight, and do not round your lower back. This will cause strain and could cause your back to spasm.

As soon as your thighs are parallel to the ground, you have completed the full range of motion, and can begin to come up. Keep your knees and quads still pointing forward and do not let your knees dip towards one another. As for your arms, place them wherever is most comfortable – on your hips, behind your head, etc.

Squat with a stability ball

The stability ball will help to act as a bit of a crutch for your squat. If you do not feel like you can achieve good form on an air squat, add the stability ball. Place it on your back standing up, and put your body weight on it against a sturdy wall. Perform the raising and lowering motion as the ball glides along your back. This will help your back to stay nice and straight and will give you a chance to work on good form. You will end up sitting back a bit further in your heels since the stability ball will account for some of your weight.

Squat with TRX straps

The TRX straps will provide a similar feeling as the stability ball, but your arms will account for a bit more of the effort. I did TRX squats multiple times during my pregnancy since my balance was off, but I still wanted the benefits of squatting to help me with labor.

Pregnant TRX Squat

Grab the TRX straps and hold on tight. Raise and lower yourself by sitting back in your heels. In the beginning, you can rely heavily on your arms to support you. Once you get the hang of it, try putting a bit more of the effort into your legs, and minimally use the TRX straps for support. This is a great way to transition from the supported squat to the air squat.

Leg Press

A leg press machine also mimics the squat, but in a different way. It is much easier to load a lot of weight with a leg press machine than it is with free weights or a bar bell. With that being said, it does not mean leg presses are easy! Keep in mind your low back should be nice and flat against the bench you are sitting on. If you have a little curve in it, you will be using your back to lift instead of your legs, and once again, will raise your risk of injury.

Squat with free weights

This will be exactly the same as an air squat, with the only difference being you have a free weight in each hand. Pay attention to the weights and be sure they are not pulling you too far forward. If they are, lighten up the weight. Your hands (with the weights) can either be by your side, or up by your shoulders. Just don’t rest them on your shoulders. Holding the weight right around your shoulders will give your arms some resistance as well, and cause you to keep a nice and tight core.

Squat with a barbel

Form is of utmost importance when adding weight to a squat, especially when the weight is held up over the head. You can either rest the barbel on your back (on your shoulders) or keep it held above your head. Start with minimal weight, just to get the feeling of the extra element added to the squat, and build from there. Remember, do not round your lower back when pushing back up. This is unbelievably important!

What other type of squats can you think of?

Body After Baby: 4 Months

On Monday, after updating everyone on Grant, I thought it might be time to get an update written about myself – finally! I had originally intended to do these posts once a month, just to keep track of my progress. When it really came down to it, I just didn’t care to do them. Time passed by way to fast, and I did not take the time to take photos of myself or track my weight. I figured I might as well write it all down since I’m now 4 months post partum!

4 months post partum

Here is a look back to just a month after Grant’s arrival:

1 month post partum

Before trying to get pregnant, I weighed 138 pounds. Now, I am at a solid 145 pounds. A lot of my clothes are fitting me again, and have been for quite some time, however I am still not fitting into the shorts I wore pre-pregnancy. My hips are still wider than they were before (although they have shrunk a lot!), so I have definitely invested in some new shorts for now. If there is one piece of advice I have for new moms, it is to go and buy some new clothes you feel good in after you have your baby. You don’t have to spend a ton on it either. Old Navy has been my favorite place to find affordable options while my body is in the transition into my clothes from before. I’ve been able to find a few pair of my favorite shorts for only $12. I can wear them now, and when it is time for baby #2, I’ll be able to wear them for the first bit as well – especially if I add a belly band.

Exercise

I’ve been really proud of myself in the exercise department. I’ve been able to get out in the morning before work for about 30-45 minutes, three to four times a week, and usually once on the weekend. This means my alarm is blaring at 4:45am, but if I want to get it in, early mornings are my only choice. Afternoons here have been filled with thunderstorms and I would much rather come home from work to spend time with Grant than have to worry about getting out for a run. I’ve also been strength training 2-3 days a week at lunch. My office has a gym we have the privilege of having access to, so I am very thankful for that perk. I am not sure how I would get it in otherwise. Unfortunately, activities like yoga and swimming are currently non-existent. I am still working on how to fit those into my schedule.

4 months post partumEats

I eat so much more now than I ever did while I was pregnant. I have been cognizant of eating healthy items, but I tend to eat a whole lot of them. I can not go more than 3 hours without eating something, or I start to feel very woozy. Exclusively breastfeeding Grant has made my body burn quite the large amount of calories – pair that with exercising each day, and my body needs a lot of sustenance to keep it going. Every time I think I should cut back a little on the food intake to try to lose the extra 5 pounds I am still holding onto, I immediately regret the decision. If I want to exercise like I am while continuing to pump, then it is my only option. I am not saying good-bye to either of those things, so a few extra pounds will just have to stick with me for a while.

My Mind

I have to say, this past week I have been completely over not being able to fit into the rest of my clothes. I mentioned to both my sister, Emily as well as to Marcus, about why on earth my hips have not yet gone back down to their original size. They reassured me that it has still only been a few months since I had Grant, and even less time since I got the green light to exercise. My body did quite an amazing thing (birthing a baby!), so I need to cut myself a little bit of slack.  After all, this little guy is worth each and every pound and extra inch!

4 months post partum

 

Anyone else need a good pep talk about post baby body progress at one point or another?

Grant: 4 Months

Well Grant, another month has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I have a feeling I may be saying this a lot, but your last month was the most fun yet!

Grant 4 months

Your personality shines through wherever you go. You don’t spend much time staying still anymore – those arms and legs are always movin’ and a shakin’! You have really started to become aware of your surroundings lately. No one can walk by you without you turning your head to look at them. If they are lucky (which usually they are), you flash them a big ole’ gummy smile, which just so happens to be one of my absolute favorite things in the world.

Grant Louisville 4 months

You are tipping the scales at 15 lbs 7 ounces now, which your pediatrician tells us is perfect – I’d have to say I agree. You did very well at your doctor’s appointment again this time around, even though you got your next round of vaccinations. Of course, you hated the shots, but you had a smile on your face just minutes later. You are still 100% breastfed, and are doing great with it! I was worried you might not like it as much when I went back to work, but I was wrong. I think we both look forward to that time we spend together each day (even if you are looking forward to it for a much different reason!).

Grant 4 month checkup

I have a feeling your most favorite place in the world is on your playmat, singing and dancing to the music with the fun animals. You can lay there for quite some time. Pair that with your daddy playing some music for you on the guitar, and we are good to go! You don’t need to be held nearly as often any more, as you are finding out what those little hands do and really like to grab a hold of things, especially my hair and necklaces.

Grant 4 months

You still love bath time and time spent on your changing table. You are so content in both of these places, and just chat up a storm. Having your diaper changed is always a fun time in your book. You are completely out of your 3 month PJ’s at this point – you are just too long to fit into them anymore. You can still fit in your other 3 month clothes, but some of them are getting pretty tight. Looks like its going to be all 6 month clothes pretty soon!

Grant 4 months

The most fun thing for you in the past month was your first airplane ride! Grant, to say you did well is an understatement. Most of the passengers around us didn’t even know you were there since you were so well behaved. It was quite the relief for daddy and I.

Grant airplane rideOf course, since we were on a plane, we were going somewhere fun, right? Right! We went to Louisville for your Papaw’s 60th birthday celebration. You were able to meet so many great aunts and uncles, and all sorts of cousins. I can’t wait for our next trip up there so you can run around with all of the kids!

Grant Adele and EmmettYou did really well on the trip, even though you were a bit off of your schedule. Night time sleeping wasn’t the best – you were up at least 3 times a night, which was definitely surprising since you sleep through at home on most nights. No worries – you were back to normal the night we got back –> daddy and I thank you!

Grant and Adele reading

Grant, I know I tell you each and every day, but I am so lucky to be your mom. You are such a fun and lighthearted little guy, and I can’t wait to see what month 5 brings us! I have a feeling it will be a lot more smiles, laughs, and tons of love!

Grant and Mommy Pony

Introducing Speed Back Into Running

I’ve been back running now for 10 weeks since I was given my clearance to start up again after having Grant. I started off pretty slow, utilizing the run/walk approach that first week, and running only every other day to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it. From there, I kept creeping up in the time I spent out running, and then finally reintroduced my Garmin into my life. For me, I wasn’t looking to see my speed as much as simply wanting to know my progress.

Speed Into Running

Once I hit the 8 week mark, I was ready to start introducing some light speed workouts back into my routine. It is no easy task, but definitely necessary to reach goals in the future and to start building a quicker base. Here are a few tips to get back into some faster workouts.

Focus on Endurance Before Speed

It’s important to make sure you build your endurance before you build up your speed. If you can’t run 4 miles easy, do you really think you are going to be able to run them hard? Make sure you have a solid base before even considering picking up the pace. If you don’t, your injury rate is going to become much greater.

Start Off Easy

It is important to understand you will most likely not be hitting your race goal pace on your workouts for a while. Get into your workout groove, and simply see where you are – pull a benchmark of your progress. While I was on the treadmill yesterday, I ran 4×400 with a 400 recovery. These 400′s were run at 7:15 pace. Needless to say, I have an extremely long way to go until I am hitting the paces I was a little over a year ago. My tempo runs were closer to 7:15, and now I am huffing and puffing for a 7:15 400. It’s all quite humbling, that’s for sure. Just remember – with hard work and dedication, you will get back to some speedy workouts.

Focus on Quality over Quantity

Is it better to do 8×400 and not hit a single mark you were looking to, or is it better to run half as many 400′s and hit every single repeat on the nose? The latter option is best, of course. Having a quality workout is far better than simply hammering out a bunch of mediocre repeats. Remember this – it’s important!

Distinguish the Difference Between Discomfort and True Pain

You know what I am talking about here. Workouts are not meant to be easy – that’s why they are called workouts, and not an easy run. You should be uncomfortable and breathing heavy, but not unable to breathe. Your muscles should feel tired and fatigued, but not stretched to the point of injury. We can push our bodies much further than we think, however, don’t forget to listen to your body if you do think something is awry.

Don’t Do Them Back to Back

Just like strength training, your body needs a day in between speed workouts to recover. Do one workout a week in the beginning, and then build up to two. From there, see what your body can handle. Do this very gradually to steer clear of over doing it and getting mentally and physically burnt out.

Speed workouts are a fun way to vary up your running routine. Have fun introducing them into your training schedule, but be sure to do it slowly but surely!

A Father’s Day 5k and 1 Mile Walk

One of the best parts of being a parent is experiencing so many firsts – smiles, rolling over, and in this case, Father’s Day! We celebrated Marcus’ very first Father’s Day  all weekend long.

Father's Day Marcus and Grant

Saturday was nice and low key – the guys played golf in the morning, and we had dinner in at night. Sunday morning, the 4 of us woke up for a nice 5k and 1mile run/walk. The Richard’s Father’s Day Family 5k walk and jog started at ended at a brand new restaurant, Ulele, opening later this summer.

Ulele

100% of the proceeds of the event went to the Advanced Prostate Cancer Collaboration (APCC) at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. We have someone near and dear to us who overcame prostate cancer, so it was great to be able to participate in a race directly benefitting the cause. This was a no bells and whistles sort of race – no medals, timing clock, or even bibs. It was truly just to raise awareness. It was great to make it a family affair – even Winnie joined in on the fun!

Winnie

There was a quick warm-up before we were all given the go ahead to start, and then we were on our way.

Father's Day 5k

We opted for the 1 mile walk since my father in law is still coming back from a foot injury from earlier this year. I always thought 5k’s went by too fast – think about a 1 mile event! It was just a quick little out and back jaunt down the road, and then we were back at the event site.

Eddie and Winnie

The best part of a race being held at a restaurant is definitely the post race breakfast ever. I have no idea how they make their eggs, but they were the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had. Just another reason I can not wait for the restaurant to open up!

Ulele breakfast

Of course, we had to be sure to capture the day with a few great photos.

Father Day Marcus and Ed

Thanks to Marcus’ dad, Eddie, for coming to celebrate with us. We loved every bit of it!

Marcus and Eddie

Father's Day Family picture

And because I just can’t help it – I’ll leave you with an another adorable photo of baby Grant ;)

Grant 3.5 months

 

Happy first Father’s Day Marcus. I hope it was the perfect mix of activity and relaxation.