If you’re looking for a powerful way to boost your overall fitness and get some serious results — fast — from your workout routine, look no further than performing squatting exercises.
This is one exercise that should be a part of virtually everyone’s routine, as it’s relatively simple to perform, requires no equipment, and can be done just about anywhere.
More importantly, although squats are often regarded as “leg” exercises, they actually offer benefits throughout your entire body, including deep within your core…
The Top 8 Benefits of Squats
Most of you know that I’m an avid exerciser, and an avid exercise proponent.
If you haven’t yet started a regular exercise routine, you can find tips for doing so here.
Suffice it to say, a varied workout routine of appropriate intensity is one of the smartest health moves you can make, and adding squats to your routine is a must.
What makes squats such a fantastic exercise?
1. Builds Muscle in Your Entire Body
Squats obviously help to build your leg muscles (including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves), but they also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building.
In fact, when done properly, squats are so intense that they trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone in your body, which are vital for muscle growth and will also help to improve muscle mass when you train other areas of your body aside from your legs.
So squats can actually help you improve both your upper and lower body strength.
2. Functional Exercise Makes Real-Life Activities Easier
Functional exercises are those that help your body to perform real-life activities, as opposed to simply being able to operate pieces of gym equipment.
Squats are one of the best functional exercises out there, as humans have been squatting since the hunter-gatherer days.
When you perform squats, you build muscle and help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance. All of these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world too.
3. Burn More Fat
One of the most time-efficient ways to burn more calories is actually to gain more muscle! For every pound of additional muscle you gain, your body will burn an additional 50-70 calories per day.
So, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you will automatically burn 500-700 more calories per day than you did before.
4. Maintain Mobility and Balance
Strong legs are crucial for staying mobile as you get older, and squats are phenomenal for increasing leg strength.
They also work out your core, stabilizing muscles, which will help you to maintain balance. While also improving the communication between your brain and your muscle groups, which helps prevent falls – which is incidentally the #1 way to prevent bone fractures versus consuming mega-dose calcium supplements and bone drugs.
5. Prevent Injuries
Most athletic injuries involve weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which squats help strengthen.
They also help prevent injury by improving your flexibility (squats improve the range of motion in your ankles and hips) and balance, as noted above.
6. Boost Your Sports Performance — Jump Higher and Run Faster
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a mom who chases after a toddler, you’ll be interested to know that studies have linked squatting strength with athletic ability.
Specifically, squatting helped athletes run faster and jump higher, which is why this exercise is part of virtually every professional athlete’s training program.
7. Tone Your Backside, Abs and Entire Body
Few exercises work as many muscles as the squat, so it’s an excellent multi-purpose activity useful for toning and tightening your behind, abs, and, of course, your legs.
Furthermore, squats build your muscles, and these muscles participate in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, helping to protect you against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
8. Help with Waste Removal
Squats improve the pumping of body fluids, aiding in removal of waste and delivery of nutrition to all tissues, including organs and glands.
They’re also useful for improved movement of feces through your colon and more regular bowel movements.
What’s the Proper Way to Perform a Squat?
- Begin with the barbell supported on top of the traps.
- The chest should be up and the head facing forward.
- Adopt a hip-width stance with the feet turned out as needed.
- Descend by flexing the knees, refraining from moving the hips back as much as possible. This requires that the knees travel forward.
- Ensure that they stay align with the feet. The goal is to keep the torso as upright as possible.
- Continue all the way down, keeping the weight on the front of the heel.
- At the moment the upper legs contact the lower legs reverse the motion, driving the weight upward.
Squat Form 101
Your build determines how proper Squat form looks like for you. The wider your shoulders are, the wider your grip should be. If you have a short torso with long thighs like me, you’ll lean more forward than people with a long torso and short thighs.
Don’t try to Squat like someone else does unless you have the same build.
Follow these general Squat form guidelines instead and individualize them as you gain experience….
- Stance. Squat with your heels shoulder-width apart. Put your heels under your shoulders.
- Feet. Turn your feet out 30°. Keep your whole foot flat on the floor. Don’t raise your toes or heels.
- Knees. Push your knees to the side, in the direction of your feet. Lock your knees at the top of each rep.
- Hips. Bend your hips and knees at the same time. Move your hips back and down while pushing your knees out.
- Lower Back. Squat with a natural arch like when you stand. No rounding or excess arching. Keep your back neutral.
- Grip. Squeeze the bar hard. But don’t try to support heavy weight with your hands. Let your upper-back carry the bar.
- Grip Width. Use a medium grip, narrower than when you Bench Press. Your hands should be outside your shoulders.
- Bar Position. Put the bar between your traps and rear shoulders (low bar) or on your traps (high bar). Center the bar.
- Wrists. Your wrists will bend and hurt if you try to support the bar with your hands. Carry it with your upper-back.
- Elbows. Behind your torso at the top, not vertical or horizontal. Inline with your torso at the bottom of your Squat.
- Upper-back. Arch your upper-back to create support for the bar. Squeeze your shoulder-blades and raise your chest.
- Chest. Raise your chest before you unrack the bar. Keep it up and tight by taking a big breath before you Squat down.
- Head. Keep your head inline with your torso. Don’t look at the ceiling or at your feet. Don’t turn your head sideways.
- Back Angle. Not vertical or horizontal but diagonal. The exact back angle depends on your build and bar position.
- Unracking. Put the bar on your back and your feet under the bar. Unrack it by straightening your legs.
- Walk back. Way Down. Bend your hips and knees at the same time. Hips back, knees out. Keep your lower back neutral.
- Depth. Squat down until your hips are lower than your knees. Thighs parallel isn’t enough. Break parallel.
- Way Up. Move you hips straight up. Keep your knees out, your chest up and your head neutral.
- Between Reps. Stand with your hips and knees locked.
- Breathe. Get tight for the next rep. Racking. Lock your hips and knees. Then step forward, hit the rack and bend your knees.
- Bar Path. Move the bar in a vertical line over your mid-foot. No horizontal movement.
- Breathing. Big breath at the top. Hold it at the bottom. Exhale at the top.
Read more: http://stronglifts.com/squat/
If you’re afraid of squats, now is the time to add them into your routine. Start with very light weight (or just your body weight), practice absolute perfect form, and then in a matter of weeks you’ll be packing on the plates and dropping body fat while building muscle