You've Probably Been Doing Squats All Wrong

When you're crunched for time, there's nothing like a few sets of squats to get your whole lower body in shape. The classic strength move engages your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, not to mention your core and hip flexors.

"In life, we squat all the time, from playing with our children to going to the bathroom to sitting on a chair," observes Noam Tamir, founder and CEO of TS Fitness, in an interview with Self. "It's very much a functional movement." Thankfully we have health and fitness expert Jillian Michaels to show us proper form for a squat, which is surprisingly easy to get wrong, in an online demo.

The basic move: Stand with your feet just outside of your hips. "You want your toes slightly open," says Michaels, and this can vary from between 5 and 30 degrees depending on your comfort level and mobility, according to Self. Keeping your chest up, hips square, and butt tucked, slowly bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. On the way back up, keep your chest lifted and press into your heels as you concentrate on your glutes while straightening your knees back to beginning position.

Try this to get the most of out of your squats

Sounds simple, right? Just beware of common blunders that rob you of getting the most out of this power move (via Cosmopolitan). For example, you may not be squeezing hard enough. To remedy this, try tightening your glutes, quads, and hamstrings before lowering down. This will also help your form, according to Michaels. "Squeeze your butt [and] that will automatically square those hips," she explains.

Another common mistake is squatting after cardio, which makes it harder for you to progress as you may be too tired to add resistance or squat with weights. Also be on the lookout for not going low enough: Aim for getting your thighs parallel to the floor or lower before straightening back up to get the full benefit of this move. To make sure you've got your form down, do a spot check in the mirror from time to time. Soon you'll be squatting with confidence — and showing off some serious curves!