Are back squats, a powerful fat-burning exercise, something that every woman should try to master? I’m a certified personal trainer.

Perhaps you keep hearing about how fabulous the back squat is for any goal a woman may have: weight loss, a firmer butt, firm legs, a stronger back, a tighter middle — and on and on.

So why is it, then, that many women struggle with the back squat, while other women take to this multi-joint exercise rather quickly? It has to do with body proportions (save for miscellaneous variables like “bad knees” or pre-existing back issues).

There are different kinds of squats: back, overhead, front, dumbbell, goblet, to name a few. The free barbell back squat is considered the best of the lower extremity exercises.

Women new to squatting should see how they do first with a bodyweight squat. Many women will not be able to sink to a thighs-parallel-to-floor position without an exaggerated forward lean that makes it impossible to keep an arch in their lower back.

Throughout the squat exercise, the trainee must keep an arch in their lower back, never losing it, never. The back should never, ever round out!

Why is it that some women can descend to parallel while keeping their backs fairly upright, and other women must pitch way forward, arms out in front of them to prevent from falling backwards? Body proportions.

In order to keep balanced while lowering into a squat, your shoulder must be smack overhead of your midfoot, forming a vertical line.

As you lower (as in a chair), the shoulders get shifted back as the hips get displaced back. But in a chair, you don’t have to create that vertical line between shoulder and midfoot because the chair prevents you from falling back onto the floor.

Try this test. Sit on the edge of a chair that allows your thighs to be parallel to the floor, feet flat on floor and a little wider than shoulder width apart, and even side by side. While keeping both feet flat on the floor, move them towards the chair, as far as you can go before you feel you must elevate the heels. Don’t overdo this, though; just go as far as you comfortably can, keeping heels on floor.

Now, keeping back straight (arch in lower portion), lean forward to align your shoulder directly overhead of the midfoot. Do not round the back!

How far must you lean forward to get that vertical alignment? That’s how far you’d have to lean forward in an actual back squat exercise.

Some women will not have to lean forward that much. These women are great back squat contenders. Other women will have to lean their torso practically parallel to the floor. The back squat will be more difficult for them.

What is it about a woman’s proportions that makes the severe forward lean necessary? Many women have a short torso, shorter than the length of their thigh bone (femur). They are “high waisted” and may or may not have disproportionately long femurs. The big issue is torso length to femur length.

If your torso is longer than your thigh, it’s easy to see why you must lean so far forward to get the shoulder over the midfoot.

If the shoulder falls short of the vertical line in an actual back squat situation, you’ll fall backwards. There’s no way around it. This is Physics 101.

Imagine that your torso is longer than your femurs. Do you see how you wouldn’t have to lean as far forward to align shoulder with midfoot? This same principle applies when femur length is the issue.

A woman may have an average torso length, but her femurs are disproportionately long for her height. To get the shoulder over the midfoot she must really lean far forward, because the length of the femurs determines how far out the midfoot is.

You need not be a body proportion expert to understand the obvious: The ideal proportions for the back squat are a combination of long torso and short femur. Those with long femurs and short torsos are screwed when it comes to the back squat.

This is why you will never see a “high waisted” woman with “long legs” performing a back squat to parallel with standard form and no heel elevation.

She goes down halfway to parallel, leaning torso far forward to get that alignment, but can’t lower any further because to do so would force her spine to be parallel to the floor.

Tall women should never assume they have the wrong proportions for the back squat. A very tall woman can have femurs shorter than her torso! A short woman can have a short torso and long femurs! Total height is irrelevant to body proportions and the back squat.

For women with challenging body proportions, they should focus on other forms of the squat, perhaps trying the front squat and dumbbell versions.

A wider foot stance will help tremendously, as will pointing the feet out (though this will recruit inner thigh muscle). A one-inch heel insert will also help.

Finally, for women whose proportions aren’t ideal for the back squat, they have another good alternative, whether they seek weight loss, better looking legs or improved fitness.

3 Things Skinny Guys Should Never Do

Being skinny and having very low body fat levels in every day life is a great thing. You tend to look pretty good in most clothes, you don’t have to choose clothes that hide your lumps and bumps. You generally have more energy and it isn’t such a challenge simply moving around each day as it is for your larger friends. But as with all things in life there is often a catch and there is one here too.

Whilst you may find it much harder than most to store body fat, which is great, you will also find it much harder when building muscle. The following three mistakes are most commonly made by skinny guys when trying to gain muscle.

Not Changing Your Lifestyle

Your body will normally struggle to get enough calories each day to carry out quite simple tasks such as work or any other activities that you do on a regular basis, let alone recover from the rigors of weight training. If you do decide that building muscle is going to be one of your priorities then it will be necessary to slow down in other areas of your life. Rest whenever you can, never run when you can walk etc. Also you should add in extra meals or snacks wherever possible in order to ensure that you are eating enough calories to support muscle growth.

Training Harder Than anyone Else

Another common misconception when training on a regular basis is that you will see others who seem to not work as hard as you do or perform workouts much shorter than yours, yet they appear to be getting more muscular and at a much quicker rate than you.

Your natural instinct at first will be to work harder and for longer still to keep up with them. This is also a big mistake because you are built differently to others and what works for them won’t necessarily work for you. You run a real risk of over training and your body will shut down and flat out refuse to grow. You’ll feel run down, tired, have no energy and struggle to eat the calories you need to eat each day. The list of side effects is endless and can be a real sticking point in anyone’s progress. Instead ease off your training a little, monitor your progress by taking measurements regularly. If you are making gains then keep going at the rate you are, if not then add a few extra sets, reps or exercises in to your program gradually.

Eating More Calories

Yes you are nearly right, eating more calories is absolutely essential for anyone interested in building muscle, but for the skinny guy, the tendency is to just eat any old food in an attempt to pack on the muscle. Eating large amounts of fats especially saturated fats is not a healthy way to add body weight. Whilst the aim is to gain weight we ideally want to gain most of that from muscle as opposed to extra stored body fat.

The key here is to increase both the amount of proteins you eat and also the carbohydrates. There may need to be a small compromise in that you will need to eat slightly more processed foods such as white bread instead of whole meal for example, because generally speaking unprocessed foods fill you up much quicker than the processed types and you may struggle to eat enough calories.

Being skinny can be great, but when building muscle it can be a real hindrance. Far more skinny guys stop training before they make any real progress than any other type of body shape. You need to slow down a little and take things easy, eat more of the right types of foods and stop judging yourself against the progress of others.

Be patient and you will see results.

Author’s Bio: 

Jago Holmes is a registered personal trainer and director of New Image Fitness Ltd. He is a qualified trainer with over 10 years experience working with bodybuilders and men and women wanting to build muscle and change their body shape. He has created a website to provide free, impartial support and advice for anyone that wants to add muscle and train with weights, devoted entirely to safe and effective bodybuilding techniques. You can get instant access to his free reports by visiting

Ways to Build Muscle Fast

Building muscle mass fast is a lie at best. The body will not add muscle mass to the body at a rate that most people are willing to accept. Sorry, but that is the truth. That is why people are always looking for the magic bullet in the magazines. They want a supplement that is going to turn them into Arnold over night. They are looking for that magic exercise that will make them the next Dorain Yates. They want to be huge, so they look at the next greatest routine in this months magazines. The trouble is they are looking in the wrong place.

The gym is were they need to looking. The dinner table is were that magic bullet may be. The bed is where that next pound of muscle mass may be sleeping. You need to look at all the things you are doing now. Stop wasting money on the next latest supplement. Stop hanging out at the local bar at three in the morning. You need to stop shoving Burger King down your throat.

You need to spend more time working on the major muscle groups like the legs, back and the chest. Spend more time training in the squat rack. More time lifting the weights off the floor. That cable crossover is not going to give you Arnold’s chest. The leg extensions are not going to give you thighs that swing back and forth when you walk. Those lateral raises are not going to make you look like a monster in that super tight tee shirt.

You need the big exercises to get you bigger. The shrugs and the deadlifts for the back. The bench press with real weight for the chest and shoulders. Heavy overhead press for the arms and shoulders. Squats and leg presses done with max weights.There are plenty of exercises that you could be doing that will not waste your time. Squats, barbell hack squats, Jefferson squats, deadlifts, good mornings, bent over rows, seated rows, chin ups, bench press, incline press, decline press, dips, overhead press standing, seated, behind the neck press, shrugs, high pulls, barbell curls, close grip bench press, dumbbell curls, lying tricep extensions, calf raises seated and standing. These are the exercises that you need to focus on. These are the exercises that you need to pile the weights on. You need to get strong in these exercises. Spend the next six months moving heavy iron on these exercises and stop worrying about the isolation movements and trying to get a pump.

Protein is the most important thing you need to focus on when it comes to putting food or a drink in your mouth to consume. Not glutamine, creatine, BCAA’s, beta-alanine, citrulline malate, leucine, Superpump 250, Size On, Myofusion or any other latest greatest supplement. Save your money and focus on a good high quality protein powder and a good vitamin pack.

Next comes the food. This one is rather simple. Eat protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. In that order. Eat enough protein for your body, consume enough calories to allow for growth, and complex carbs for energy. Stop worrying about your six pack abs while trying to add mass over the next six months. If you are not eating the correct food and in the right amounts than you are short changing yourself. I promise you that those pro bodybuilders you see in the magazine, do not look like that year round. No way. So stop worrying about the definition in your legs and get big by eating all the protein you can.

Last but not least is sleep. You will never grow if you are not getting at least eight hours of sleep a night and trying too rest at least once during the day. For the next six months try getting more sleep and taking more naps. You will be amazed at what that simple change will do for you.

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