The Squat vs the Plie…
…which one should you do?
As a certified personal trainer working for gyms like Equinox Fitness Clubs, I can tell you that in a gym, anywhere you turn you are likely to see members and /or trainers doing squats. I do them myself as well as with many of my clients.
Why is this exercise so popular?
Think, for a moment, about the way young children move. They squat to play in the sand box, they squat just to sit and take a break. They so effortlessly move through this range of motion as if it were natural. You know why, because it is, or it least is was (for us) at one time.
So, what happens to us as we get older, taller, bigger, why do so many seem to loose this ability to squat? For one thing, we don’t use the body in the same way. It’s not likely that you’ll squat while on line at the grocery store, and usually when we want to sit and “take a break”, as adults we use furniture. So naturally we are out of practice.
Here’s the good news, doing squats is extremely beneficial in so many ways. And…Overtime you can improve and begin to regain some of the lost ability.
(this pic demonstrates a modified squat.)
Here are some benefits of doing squats:
- Overall toning and strengthen in your lower body and legs.
- Development of:
- Butt, (glutieus maximus),
- Hips (gluteus medius),
- Thighs, (quadriceps),
- Hamstrings and Calfs.
Now let’s compare the squat to the dancer’s plie in second position.
Apart from my experience as a personal trainer, I’ve been a dancer and dance instructor of 18 years. From that experience, I can tell you this; unlike the gym atmosphere, if you were to walk through any dance school, you’d be hard pressed to find students and teachers doing squats. What you would see however, is piles.
What’s a plie, you ask? It is simply a bending of the knees. But, because it is done with a slight external rotation (known to dancers as turn out) it engages different muscles than the squat.
(this pic demonstrates narrow stance plie in second postion)
Plies can be done in many (dance) positions of the feet, but for today, I want to talk about 2nd position plies. Second position is done with the feet pointed outward. This is a result of the hips being slightly externally rotated (turned out). This exercise can be done in both a narrow and a wide stance.
Here’s why I love them:
Like their sister movement the squat, 2nd position plies work
- Butt, (gluts maximus)
- Thighs, (quadriceps)
In addition, it is also an incredible workout for your:
- Inner thighs (adductors)
These two exercises also share some common benefits such as:
- allowing the joints & muscles to become soft and pliable
- assisting the tendons in maintaining flexibility and elasticity
- Creating a sense of balance.
So my answer to the question is do both, the parallel squat and the turned out plie. You will begin to create longer, leaner looking legs!
You can start off either with the squat or the 2nd position plie. But, once you’ve determined you are comfortable with the movement, Try this:
Do Squats, (8 – 16 reps)
Then, without a rest period, do 2nd position plies (8 – 16 reps)
Rest :30seconds to 1 minute
Repeat entire set 2 more times.
Remember it is important to be safe and realistic about your fitness goals. Be patient with yourself, start slow if you need to, consistency will prove effective.
Have fun; go get those strong, fierce, long and lean legs!
Committed to helping people find inspiration and motivation to move & dance!
Always check with your Doctor before starting a new exercise program.