How Many Squats Do You Really Need To Do?

Squats are a great bodyweight exercise because you don't need any equipment, and they also bring numerous benefits. For one, they offer a full-body workout that can strengthen and shape all the muscles in the butt, upper legs, hips, groin, lower legs, and core (via Healthline). They can also burn calories, improve your mobility and posture (thus decreasing your chances of injury), and can conveniently be performed most anywhere. So, you're looking to add squats to your workout routine, but you're not sure how many to do. What's the magic number? 

Healthline recommends doing three sets of 12 to 15 squats a few days a week, and other recommendations from The Healthy and Prevention come in pretty close. As with any new exercise, best practice is to start slow, begin at a number commensurate with your fitness level, and build gradually from there (via MayoClinic). First up is proper squat form. Ready to get started?

How to do squats

Proper form is vital in any exercise to avoid injuries. Squats are no different. Real Simple has these tips for good squat form: Stand with feet a little bit wider than hip-width apart with toes forward. Check your posture, making sure your back is straight, arms by your sides, shoulders back, and eyes forward. Engage your core, and put your hands on your hips. Healthline recommends putting your arms out straight in front of you, parallel to the floor. You can choose which pose you like better. 

Lower yourself so your thighs are parallel to the floor, or as far as you can without your upper body moving forward. For example, pretend you're sitting in a chair. Avoid going any lower if you have problems with your knees. Pause when you reach the sitting position. Then press into your feet and raise yourself back up into the starting position. That's one squat. Don't be discouraged if you can't get as low as a seated position. Listen to your body, stop where you have to, and keep practicing. You'll get there. 

If you want to add squats to your workout, you should aim to do them about three times a week, making sure to leave 48 to 72 hours of rest in between (via Livestrong). Try three sets of 10 to start, adding more sets or reps when those become easy for you. According to Livestrong, you should see a change in your butt in about 12 weeks.