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Why it's a winner: squats work several muscle groups -- your quadriceps ("quads"), hamstrings, and gluteals ("glutes") -- at the same time.

Squats not only build strength in the legs and glutes, they also work to strengthen your core, increase your flexibility, improve your balance, and of course burn calories - it's truly a total body workout.

The Bodyweight Basics

  1. Place feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles.
  2. Roll the shoulders back and down away from the ears. Note: Allowing the back to round (like a turtle’s shell) will cause unnecessary stress on the lower back.
  3. Extend the arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down (like your hands are on someone’s shoulders at a 7th grade dance). Or, if it’s more comfortable, pull the elbows close to the body, palms facing each other and thumbs pointing up.
  4. Initiate movement by inhaling into the belly, and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend.
  5. While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight.
  6. Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.
  7. Let the hip joint squat lower to the ground than the knees, if comfortable. Pro tip: Try squatting onto a box. Gentle tapping it with the butt will be a reminder to squat low.
  8. Engage the core, and exhale while driving through the heels to return to standing. Imagine the feet are spreading the floor (the left foot to the left, right foot to the right) without actually moving the feet.
For Increased Difficulty

 1) Jumping Squat: Jump up after every squat and land softly on your knees
From flaviliciousfitness.com

From tgiffitness.com
 2) Sumo Squat: start as in the picture - begin the movement by breaking at the hips and pushing your bum out behind you and your chest up and out in front of you -
(Note: It is okay to allow your upper body to come forward, but be sure to keep your chest up and facing forward)
Bend your knees and aim to sit down behind yourself, while keeping your weight in your heels - at the bottom of the movement your knees should be bent no more than 90 degrees, and should remain directly over top of the ankles - if your knees are coming forward over your toes, you will need to push your hips back farther behind you - do not allow your knees to come together as you squat - press the knees out slightly, and make sure that they remain directly in line with the ankles.
End: return to the starting position - squeeze your glutes forward and pull the abs tight.

The most common squat mistakes 

and how to fix them

The Mistake: Not dropping down low enough
The Fix: Take a slightly wider stance, which allows the body to stay steady while it squats deeper, and engages more muscle groups. It’s easy to want to squat just low enough so the thighs are parallel with the ground, but squats can be much more effective when we drop as low as possible (the hip joint lower than the knee joint) while still maintaining good form, Greatist Expert and trainer Dan Trink says.
The Mistake: The knees drift inward
The Fix: Turn the toes out (between 5 and 20 degrees, to get technical) to keep knees from caving inward. Knees should track in line with both the ankles and the hips, to help avoid injury and get deep in the squat. Glute bridges and lying clams will help knees from caving, says Greatist Expert Jordan Syatt.
The Mistake: The body leans too far forward
The Fix: Put most of your weight in the heels when lowering into a squat. The weight distribution will help keep the torso upright through the squat rather than teetering forward, and help keep the hips back and down, outside of the heels. Try to spread the floor apart by driving outwards through the back/outer portion of the heel.
The Mistake: Descending too quickly
The Fix: When weight is added, moving too quickly could increase chances of injury. It’s OK to explode with power when returning to standing (so long as the body remains controlled), but sitting into the squat should be a little slower to maintain proper form.
The Mistake: Not warming up
The Fix: Before squatting up a storm, try glute bridges to open up hips (which will allow the body to get lower in a squat). Warming up is important before taking on such a complex move. It’ll help prepare the body's joints and muscles for movement, and might even help prevent injury once heavy lifting get underway.

Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/