By Jessica Kupetz

While the squat is one of the most dynamic and effective exercises for toning your thighs and building your butt, it is also one of those moves women adamantly avoid (well according to our unofficial poll over here anyway). And we get it. It’s not only hard, but also awkward (what woman wants to push out her butt in public?) and most of us aren’t even sure exactly how to do it.

Unfortunately, if you’re one of those women who fears the squat, you’re missing out. Trust us! It not only strengthens the quadriceps but also works the hamstrings, gluteus maximus and even the core in just one exercise. Although we can’t make it easier or help with the awkward factor (other than to tell you that the results far outweigh the mild embarrassment), we can make sure that, at the very least, you know exactly how to do it (both so you look like you know what you’re doing and to avoid injury and ensure effectiveness).

Get to the gym faster with this tip!

Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart and your toes are pointing directly in front of you. The key is to keep your knees in line with your ankles and your weight on your heels as you bend at the knees, not at the waist, like you’re sitting in a chair. If you look down, you should be able to see and wiggle your toes throughout the execution of a squat. If you can’t see those toes, you need to sit back further during the implementation of the squat. If you have a full-length mirror handy, go ahead and check yourself out! If you’re having trouble, start standing against a wall with a burst resistant exercise ball behind your back.

The more comfortable you become with the squat, the deeper you can sit into it. While a properly executed squat needs no extra weight or acute change to make it effective, if you’re looking for a tougher challenge, try adding hand weights or try performing a single-leg squat to further challenge your stability and engage your core more deeply.

Use this trick to help push through the burn!

Since squatting is a functional exercise, it helps us perform movements we rely on throughout the day. Where we most notice the benefits (other than in the mirror, of course): when we’re stuck having to go to a grungy public restroom. We all know the inevitable perils of a public bathroom and the need to surmount (or just mount) them and the squat will help you tackle this unfortunate situation without trembling thighs (and so your toned tush doesn’t need to go anywhere near that toilet seat).

5 more exercises you can try today!

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