I had problems doing parallel squats at first as my heels would start raising up before reaching this position. I would get close but not good enough. I have never been able to crouch/squatdown flatfooted normally anyway and thought going parallel might be another problem area.
Then I found out about "box squats" and this helped alot. You have a stool/box just at the right height where you can sit down with the weight briefly and rise up. Because of foot position and how you would normally sit...this helped break me of that problem.
To help strengthen/build up your legs, you can do squats starting with the bare bar (Olympic bars weigh 45lbs) as a warmup for about 20 reps or so. If it does feel too light ....and we women have quite abit of lower body strength to start with.....you can add a couple of 10lb plates or more. Whichever is more comfortable to keep in form and be able to do the reps with. This exercise does hit the whole body, particularly the legs, butt, hips and lower back.
It is considered the "Queen" of the exercises with the bench press next. It not only demands and teaches strength. It also teaches balance, coordination, endurance and power. The simple act of standing up under a weight is intensely demanding for your whole body. You are challenging it After a set of squats..even light ones, you might feel abit weak legged ("wet noodle") or have a powerful need to sit down. Maybe even dizzy....this will diminish over time. Beginners often find the squats very demanding until they get conditioned. Just be patient and persist and you will find the rewards are justified with a great pair of shapely legs.
In conjunction to squats, there are some other isolation leg exercises you can do to help build up the front and hamstrings. Using the leg extension attachment is one...this to build the front of the thighs and the hamstrings. You can do weighted walking or stationary lunges. All these will help isolate and strengthen the legs as well. But for really getting that "rush", up your metabolism and feeling of accomplishment....the squats.
And no, I still cannot deep squat down completely flatfooted. But I can do parallel now well.
There are seperate leg press machines but if all you can afford is the Olympic bench and weights....keep with those.
. Standard bars are about 18 to 21 pounds depending on the company. I have a 21 pound Ivanko for some warmup before using my 45lb Olympic bar. Overall pressing weights is adding the weight of the plates to bar weight. So if I am bench pressing 115lbs, that is two 35lb plates (70lbs) plus the bar itself (45lbs). When I am parallel squatting 215lbs...it is the bar (45lbs) plus a pair of 45s (90lbs) and a pair of 35s (70lbs) At the college gym, I was doing 275lbs but that in a power rack cage. There was another squat rack but preferred to use the cage instead. I also used it to help me through some sticking points in my bench press.
JUst remember to stand with the bar across your traps (upper back) not on your neck. Some people use the "Manta Ray" which is a plastic device you can attach to the bar and it helps distribute the load abit. The college gym used them but at home I use the bare bar only.
Feet should be about shoulder width. You can go wider or narrower...its up to you. The wider the stance, the more your toes to point out and fine as long as your knees follow. You do not want to have your knees point inwards or forward. Just find what is comfortable for you.
Take a nice deep breath, pushing your chest up and out...putting your back in correct position. The shoulders should be back and a gentle curve in your lower back. Not completely straight up and down. The upper body should lean forward as you descend to compensate for the hips moving back. A forward lean is fine IF it is coming from the hips...not the waist. begin your descent retaining the lumbar arch. Hips sit back and down....like sitting in chair that's not there.
"Parallel squats" is when the thighs are parallel to the ground.
Olympic size plates have a 2 inch hole in the center to slip over the wide ends of the Olympic bars. These bars have the wider sleeves to hold these plates and the bar itself is thicker than the "Standard" exercise bar. This means the Olympic are built to hold more weight for heavy squats, deadlifts or benchpresses. For a complete set, you get the Olympic bar with a pair of 45s, 35s, 25s, 10s and 5s. You can get smaller additional fractional plates in 1 1/2, 2 1/2 and 5 pound plates to help progress. As well as extra 10lb and 25lb plates as you need them from most sports stores. The bars are about 7 foot long (45lbs) although there are 6 footers that are (35lbs) Mine is a standard 45lb seven footer.
The Olympic benches are heavier made and has a wider stance to carry the bar and weights....especially when you are going back and forth putting on the plate with one side mayhaps heavier than the other for the time it takes to do this. Do this on a standard bench and the bar could slip off or flip if not just plain tip the bench AND bar over on its side. The reason? The standard benches are too narrow, lightweight and not stable enough for any serious workouts. For the money, you are best to get an Olympic bench. Make sure the crutches are adjustable as some cheaper ones are not and best to have one with an adjustable bench.
Standard exercise barbells are lighter and do have small holes. The best ones to get are solid rather than hollow as these can take more weight. Ivanko's are good to have. Some lifters do like to have both as you can use the lighter straight bars for standing or sitting barbell bicep curls or any other shoulder exercise you can use these for.
Will be back in a few moments to add to this.
Back.....Standard bars are about 6 foot and have 1 inch holes. Some lifters use both Olympic and Standard in their gyms for exercises not calling for one or the other. Standing or sitting barbell curls, lying down tricep curls and shoulder exercises can be done using the standard bar w/ plates. I have an Ivanko solid bar and dumbbells with plates for this. I like these as they have an inner lip for the plates to butt up against. It's a pain to always adjusting/making sure moveable inside collars are placed just right for a balanced weight. The same thing with the dumbbells. But there are other Standard bars with this.
Ok! We purchased a standard bar and a few plates today. I already have a full set of dumbells. I am starting with the standard size because the olympic is simply too much metal for me to handle right now! lol
We also got an olympic bench! I'm very excited to get it and set it up. Although I'm pretty sore from those squats! I had no idea I was working so much until today... Ugh!
I plan on moving to the olympic sizes later when I get stronger.
Laurie2, Thank you so much for your help! You really took some time and I appreciate it! With the information you gave me, I felt confident in buying what I did.
Yes, the olympic one were that way for me at first. During my first college semester, I did not use these. Only the machine shoulder and bench press were used. But was getting frustrated. I found myself conpensating with my stronger right arm while pushing up the Universal benchpress handles. But for beginners, that is what the instructor had us start with for obvious reasons. Safety for the most part as some of the class members would have had problems even with the lighter bars there without plates.
By the end of the first semester, I started using the Olympic bar as I wanted to force my left to push more. I was using the dumbbells to help strengthen the support muscles by then. My bench progress really increased after dropping the machines and going to freeweights.