Learn four different squat exercises that ANY woman can choose from to lose weight, improve bone strength and fitness.

If you’re a woman (including postmenopausal) who wants to lose weight or get more fit, do not be intimidated by squatting for your workouts.

Following are four different types of squats that women can try.

The big rule in ANY kind of squat is to always maintain an arch in the lower back, always; never round the back!

Back Squat

The barbell is across the upper part of your back, hands wide apart on it, palms facing forward. You then sink to a squat. If you can break parallel, then do so.

Shutterstock/Jasminko Ibrakovic

The challenge: getting into a parallel position while keeping the lower back arch. If this is not possible, one or more of three elements can explain why:

1) Thighs are longer than torso, creating mechanical disadvantage, 2) Hips are very tight, and 3) Very stiff ankles. The most likely reason is #1, which you can’t change.

For women struggling with #1, see if widening your stance doesn’t solve the problem. If not, point feet outward about 20-30 degrees and see what happens.

For other women, keep practicing, and use the lightest bar possible until you master the form. Sinking below parallel (half-way between a half and a full squat) is easier on the knees.

Goblet Squat

Hold a dumbbell, kettlebell or weight plate at chest level, as close to the chest as possible.

Shutterstock/Serghei Starus

Sink to parallel, and go lower if possible, keeping the weight in position throughout.

That’s basically it, but a more advanced version is to stay in the squat with the elbows against inner thighs/knees, and push the legs out for some stretching, before rising.

Body Weight Squat

Hold arms out straight in front, and lower to parallel or more. If this is not possible, widen the stance until you can drop to parallel. If it’s still not possible, then you likely have very stiff hips and/or ankles.

Shutterstock/ LightField Studios

Do not force anything. Just keep practicing. For women who can do this easily, try it with hands on hips, then hands folded on head, then folded behind head.

Stability Ball Squat

Place ball between your back and the wall. Keep back against the ball at all times; do not drift forward.

George Stepanek, CreativeCommons

Lower into squat, but make sure that the feet are ahead of the knees. You may do body weight only or hold dumbbells straight at sides.

Dumbbell Squat

Hold dumbbells on either side of body with straight arms. Lower to parallel (or below if possible).

An advanced version is to hold the dumbbells between the legs.

Though this will make it easier to drop to parallel, it will cause more tension in the arms and have a tendency to pull the torso forward.

For women, including postmenopausal, who want to get serious with squats, you just need to keep practicing and always, always keep the arch in your lower back.

If your back is rounding, something needs to be adjusted.

Women should do squats. This includes overweight women and thin postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women of all sizes should do squats.

When I see older women struggling to get out of a car seat, I think, “That woman never did squats.”

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.