There’s never been a better time to start working towards getting those perfectly toned glutes. Now that summer is here, the idea of outdoor running and cycling is much more appealing – so it’s essential to strengthen the right muscle groups to keep you going for longer and smash those PBs!

We positively adore short, sharp exercises that really work. And that’s why we’re head over heels for squats. A simple little exercise with a simple little name… but there’s a whole lot to gain by incorporating these gems into your workout. So here’s our ‘top of the squats’ reasons why you’ll love them:

1. Squats are a great lower body workout. They get all the major muscle groups working in your bum, thighs and hips. Squats also target your quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles; all of which contribute to strengthening your legs. So done regularly they’re a guaranteed way to tone up your bottom half.

2. Squats are particularly great for tightening and toning your bum, so make sure you give your glutes an extra squeeze when returning to a standing position.

3. Squats can be done anywhere! At work, at home, in the gym… wherever the mood and fancy takes you. Think of them as a completely portable exercise – so you can even squeeze a few in whilst you’re on holiday!

4. To get maximum effect from doing regular squats, and to make them a great all over workout, why not include hand weights for extra upper body results. These can be dumbbells, barbells, wrist weights etc. Always start with a lighter weight, and build up slowly and gradually in order to avoid injury.

5. Slow it down: by slowing the motion of going into a squat and back again, it makes your workout much more intense. OK, it’s harder work, but the results will be even more impressive. If it all seems a bit too difficult at first, why not mix it up with a combination of slow and fast. For example, 2 sets of 5 reps slow, followed by 3 sets of 5 reps fast.

6. Make sure you tighten your abdominal and core muscles when doing squats. Combined with your back muscles, they’re essential for keeping you well balanced. So it’s another muscle group to tone and target, and all adds to squats’ great effects.

7. To include a cardio element into your squat workout – and burn calories faster – why not add in some squat jumps. Squat down as normal, until your knees are bent about 90 degrees, but rather than returning to your standing position, swing your arms right up over your head and jump up as high as you can. As you land, make sure you bend your knees gently and return back into the squat position.

8. By incorporating a range of resistance and toning exercises into your workout, you’ll find your endurance levels will improve. That’s because you’re strengthening your lower body muscles, so you’ll find it easier to run further, cycle faster etc.

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