The Squat is the Queen of ALL Exercises for Toned Sexy Legs and Butt

Woman SquatWomen come to this website looking for workouts and exercises on how to get toned legs. The term ‘toned legs’ is now the number one phrase women type into Google and many of them end up here. So, I wanted to write a post on what is the absolute best exercise for getting toned legs – the weighted squat.

The squat is the Queen of all exercises

Traditionally in bodybuilding they talk of the king-like exercises; the bench press, the deadlift and the squat. These three exercises are given the name king because there is none higher than them. They are the best exercises for strength, power, muscle gain, etc.

And, to take it one step further, the squat would be the king of the kings. Or, perhaps, the Queen!

What muscles does the squat target?

The great thing about the squat is that it works so many muscles. Every muscle in your lower body is worked out and this is why it is so popular an effective. The squat is so good, in fact, that it will even help your upper body make progress as it is so stressful on the body.

The main muscles that the squat targets are shown in the image above.

How to do a pefect squat

The squat is an effective exercise and a dangerous exercise all at the same time. As we are talking about doing a weighted squat, we need to take some extra care that the preparation and execution of this exercise is done properly.

Warm up
The first thing you need to make sure you do is warm up really well. The squat is a heavy exercise and it will shock your legs too much if they are not warmed up well. We have all felt the twinge in the calf muscles or the knee when we don’t warm up and go for a jog so the squat should be no different. To warm up spend at least 10 minutes doing stretches, cardio and some body weight squats to get the blood pumping. This is essential.

Pick the right weight
To get the most out of the squat you need to use a heavy weight and you need to do it in a squat rack. If you don’t use the correct equipment you run the risk of injury. I used to do weighted squats in my shed with a home-made squat rack and it was not a good idea.

In order to pick the right weight you will need to do some experimenting. Perform the exercise a few times with a lighter weight and try to find a weight that allows you to get about eight repetitions out before you fail (can do no more). After a few sessions you will know exactly how much you can handle and how much you can increase the weight each time.

The squat technique
The squat technique really isn’t that hard. You simply breathe in as you lower your body down by bending your knees and taking the weight on your quadriceps. When you get to a position where your legs are just above being parallel with the ground you should pause for a brief moment and then push up with an out breath. Try not to spend too long at the top or bottom of the motion. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your toes should be just pointing outwards.

In between sets
In between each set of squats you should keep active; move around, stretch your legs and keep the blood flowing. It is not a good idea to let your legs cool down at all when doing such an exercise.

Woman Squat 2

Problems with the knees

Many women say that the squat hurts their knees. If this is so then you should not try to do them. There are plenty of other less stressful exercises out there that can bring excellent results as well.

There are also many experts out there who claim that the squat is bad for the knee joints. However, these experts seem to be on the losing team as the majority of people involved in health and fitness including athletes, doctors, etc. seem to hold the squat in very high regard when it is done correctly.

How to fix the knee problem
If you want to make sure the squat doesn’t hurt your knees there are a few things you can do. Firstly, it is said that the problem comes about when the ankles aren’t flexible enough and the other joints above them start to compensate by bending incorrectly. This is the main cause for squat related back injuries. To avoid this you can widen your stance a little bit so that the pressure is shifted to different areas.

Another thing that some experts have talked about is the position of the knees in relation to the feet. When you do your squats can you see your toes infront of your knees? If so then perhaps you are looking at some problems. Many of the expert bodybuilders say that it is better to squat down so that your knees come forward over your feet which allows you to keep your back straighter.

Never squat below parallel if you think you might be open to a knee injury.

Using squats in a leg toning workout

If you want to tone your legs you need to develop some muscle and lose some fat. The best place for the squat is at the beginning of your legs workout. Try and do your legs on a separate day from other muscle groups so that you can give them maximum attention.

After your warm up head over to the squat rack and perform five or six heavy sets of squats doing 8 repetitions in each set. This is enough to make you pretty tired. If you do the squats first you will find that you can give them more energy and handle a heavier weight and thus be able to make more progress.

After the squats you can do a few sets of one or two of the following exercises:

  • Dumb bell lunges;
  • Dumb bell step ups;
  • Jumping squats (if you are crazy!);
  • Calf raises;
  • Leg presses

Conclusion
The squat really is the Queen of all exercises. It will help you achieve toned legs faster than any other legs exercise as well as boosting your overall strength and power. Make sure you respect the squat though, keep your technique perfect and you should be able to avoid all injuries.

About Katie

Katie has transformed her body from a flabby 186lbs, to a fit & toned 124 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Katie joined the Lean Curves team in 2007 and has posted hundreds of articles on fitness, fat loss and healthy eating.

Comments

  1. Bailey_012 says:

    I get a few knee issues with the squat but agree that it is the best exercise for the legs. great post!

  2. RT says:

    Yeah Bailey, be careful with the knees! If in doubt sit it out

  3. Dee says:

    A great post but a pic of the positioning of the legs would have been really helpful.

  4. r says:

    Dont doing regular squats with no weights bulks up
    your legs not tone them.Im trying to keep getting my legs
    lean look not bulky-the diet im on is working for me.

  5. chiyan says:

    i didn’t get how to do it please get back to me on how to do the squats thankyou .

  6. vijitkothari says:

    I tried this exercise but found that it works out quadriceps the most.Infact I feel strain only in them.Please add that in what order does it affect these four muscles and is most effective for which muscle.Because if a person wants to make very good calves he cannot rely only upon the squat for them.Calves get least workout in this exercise.

  7. Esosa says:

    A picture would hav bin very helpful

  8. missykk says:

    Im a mother of four and I rarely have time to workout. I need help with working on my tummy rolls and my butt.

  9. Rose says:

    Next time please post picture or even a video clip. Thanks for the info that was great!!

  10. Maggie says:

    I am very new to weight training. I am curious to know should I be concerned about my plumbing? : ) Is there anything that can be done to strengthen the bladder and uterus.

  11. John says:

    I’m an intermediate body builder & I agree that the squat is none but the best leg/lower body exercise there could ever be. When I started weight training I’ve been neglecting my lower body so much that I ended up being a bit kind of disfigured (upper body looked bigger than lower body) but ever since I’ve started including the squats exercise in my workout I’ve developed great toned legs and now equally fit. Squats are just the best. Never take em light.

  12. Daniel says:

    Hi, just read this article, i agree with most of it. i would like to emphasize on a few things.

    -Full squats, buttocks to heels, are best
    -If your knees are cracking, making noises when doing them, do not worry, you probably have not been squatting for a very long time, it is going to go way. just make sure that you are able to squat without the barbell on your back first, all the way down and properly then, put the barbell on your back. at first focus on sets of 10 reps, 3 sets at best (no barbell on your back, you must be in control of yourself first) then, as you put the barbell in position and you squat down. Sets of 5 reps for 5 sets at best. The objective is to avoid muscular soreness and the more you will do (repetitions) the more soreness you will get. So the most important thing is to remain strong.
    -Make sure that your knees are tracking with your toes, not coming in.
    -Make sure that you are keeping tight from start to finish, (chest, abck, abs …)
    -When you squat, you must sit back and down. Little tricky at the beginning. Most people are knee squatters and that is not a good thing.

    can you tone your legs doing full depth squats???? Absolutely.

    the only experts i read about or listen to are the ones that are actually lifting weights like, Olympic weightlifters and Powerlifters (IPF). The ones with tons of experience, practical experience. As far as bodybuilders are concerned, they are doing a great job developing their physiques and unfortunately, very few are actually practicing a full depth squat. their main focus in to squat to target the quads, so there comes the half squat. the way they train needs to be respected also, afterall, that is what they have decided to do.

    i hope this helps

  13. edna moreno says:

    I do my bootcamp every friday and we have a new 100 day challenge… 100 squats a day (no weights). I have big thighs and do not want to make them any bigger. will this challenge make my thighs bigger? I want them toned and smaller….
    kindly respond and will show response to our fitness teacher.

  14. thelma says:

    the squat is the queen of it all. To me it is also a full body workout because you are using other muscles to help you lift. My results have been awesome if you do them correct!

  15. elvis says:

    I LOVE squats! they really help me burn my fat rolls off and work my thunder thighs. I love to sweat and love smelling like a pig, so this really helps my B.O. obsessions! I love you all. Especially the creators of squat thrusts.lol

  16. Chloesimpson says:

    Was great information

  17. Ezra says:

    That photo of the woman doing “squats” is incorrect. She must keep her back straight, and the weight of the bar much rest on the heels. Having the head aimed forward with the eyes focused just a bit above helps with this because if you add about 20lbs to that bar,she will injure herself due to improper form. Also, as a woman, you will not become bulky if you add weight because we don’t produce enough testosterone. The only way you will get bulky is if you take steroids.

  18. Ezra says:

    That photo of the woman doing “squats” is incorrect. She must keep her back straight, and the weight of the bar much rest on the heels, to avoid bending forward. Having the head aimed forward with the eyes focused just a bit above helps with this because if you add about 20lbs to that bar,she will injure herself due to improper form. Also, as a woman, you will not become bulky if you add weight because we don’t produce enough testosterone. The only way you will get bulky is if you take steroids.

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