Squats are notorious for their ability to sculpt firm thighs and a round derriere. The plie version, in which you stand with wide feet and slightly turned-out toes, targets your inner thighs, glutes and quadriceps. Because wide feet give you a bigger base of support, you can heft more weight than you might with a traditional squat. More weight can mean bigger gains. You may see this move called a "sumo" or "wide-stance" squat, and the method is the same.
Warm up before squatting. Spend three to 10 minutes participating in light aerobic activity, such as marching in place, brisk walking or pedaling an exercise bike. Complete another three to five minutes of dynamic stretches without any resistance, such as bodyweight squats, knee lifts and jumping jacks.
Perfect the bodyweight version of the plie squat before adding resistance. Stand with your feet wider than hip distance apart, toes turned out slightly -- approximately at a 45-degree angle. Reach your arms out in front of you, parallel to the floor, and bend your knees to lower your buttocks toward the floor. Tuck your tailbone under and keep the knees behind the toes as you squat as deeply as you can.
Add weight once you can do 12 repetitions of the bodyweight squat. Grasp one head of a dumbbell with both hands and allow it to hang, arms straight, in front of your wide-stance legs. Bend your knees to lower into the squat and allow the bottom end of the weight to nick the floor. Be careful not to hinge forward from the hips, rather keep your shoulders balanced over your hips as you lower yourself.
Alternatively use a barbell for extra resistance. Slide under a barbell rack so that the bar rests at the back of your shoulders and assume the top stance of the plie squat. Squat down and return your standing position, with particular attention on keeping the head up and the torso straight up and down.
Make plie squats a regular part of your lower body routine. For general strength development, add one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions with a 30- to 60-second break between sets. Rest at least 48 hours between lower body workouts to allow the muscles to repair and grow.
Tips & Warnings
- You have the option to increase the intensity of the move by squatting with just the balls of the feet in contact with the floor. Be extra aware of keeping your knees turned out just as far as your toes, and that your shoulders and back stay erect during this version.
- If you have knee or other joint problems, consult your doctor to determine whether squats are a safe exercise for you.
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