Squats are an awesome compound exercise that work many muscles at once. They can be done just about anywhere and can also be performed with or without weights or equipment. Squats make for a great no-excuse exercise but their convenience isn't the only reason you should be doing them. That's right, there's many reasons you should be adding squats to your fitness routine.
Squats Burn More FatBeing a compound (multi-joint, multi-muscle) exercise, squats naturally burn more fat compared to isolation exercises such as leg extensions. Better yet, if you bring the bar into a squat and add an overhead press at the end, it makes it a full body exercise which will give you maximum fat burning potential.Squats are a Functional ExerciseOnce again, unlike exercises like leg extensions, squats are a functional exercise that assist you in your daily life. They strengthen the muscles and increase your range of motion for everyday movements as simple as squatting down to pick up something off the floor.When you incorporate the more functional exercises in your workout routine, it can enhance your daily life at work and at home. They're not Just for Building the GlutesWhen most people think of squatting, they think of big firm booties (thanks to fitness models everywhere), but that's not the only thing the squat is good for.A proper squat will target the hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, erector spinae (lower back), rectus abdominis (abs), and the muscles of the shins and calves. That's a lot of muscles for one exercise.You can add to that list of worked muscles too by adding a loaded bar for another step in the squat.Squats Build StrengthWhether you're doing your squats with or without weight, they will help you build up strength in your legs and glutes indefinitely. Squats also give you better core strength as you do them regularly, increasing your overall strength with just one exercise, can't beat that!
Squats Reduce the Risk of InjuryInjury can come from weakness in the muscles and lack of regular movement. Injury can also come from performing certain exercises that your body just isn't ready for. Squats can help you prepare for something bigger by strengthening the muscles and joints at once.Many athletic injuries can occur because of weak connective tissues. Squats will aid in strengthening the ligaments and stabilizer muscles resulting in a stronger foundation and making you less susceptible to injury.Squats Will Improve Your Core StrengthAs I stated before, squats help to strengthen the lower back and the abs as well. These core muscles keep you stabilized during many full body exercises. Improving the strength of these muscles will benefit you not only in daily life, but even at the gym with your major lifts. Much of our strength comes from the core, that's why it's a smart idea to do these types of exercises and keep them in tip-top shape.Improve Your Vertical JumpDo you like to do box jumps or even play sports like basketball? Squats are a great exercise for helping you boost your jumping game. Doing squats build a ton of strength in your hips, this will boost your jumping power on the way up. Along with that, they help you to absorb shock on the way down which goes back to helping you prevent injury. Just think of them as boosting your shock absorbers.Squats Increase your FlexibilityPerforming a full range squat will improve your flexibility drastically. Not only in the hips, but also in the knees and ankles as well. Squats add to your mobility and help you stay nice and flexible in other sports and exercises as well. Squats Improve Your CirculationIf you frequently feel your legs "falling asleep" and tingling, this could be due to poor circulation. The body requires a lot of movement throughout the day for optimum circulation. Doing a few rounds of squats will get your heart pumping and the blood moving where it needs to be.Squats Improve Your PostureWorking and building the muscles of the core and even the glutes and hips, will play a significant role in the improvement of your posture.Posture comes not only the shoulders as many people think, but from the ground up. It starts with a strong foundation and an even balance of strength between the front and back of the body. Squats are an excellent way to help this balance of strength. Squats are Low ImpactNot everyone like to do Hiit (high intensity interval training) type of workouts where you're jumping, doing burpees, high knees, squat jumps, etc. That's because it can be a tough impact on the knees. Squats will get your body in shape without all that jumping around.Squats are a great low impact way to not only build muscle, but to burn calories and make you sweat like you mean it.How to Perform a Squat The Correct WaySquatting looks simple, but things can go downhill in a heartbeat if you're not careful with your form. Squat's are one of the safest and most effective compound exercises and it's a rarity that someone will get injured by performing them unless they're all out of whack with the form of things.
- Stand with your feet at hip-width apart, head and feet facing forward, chest out, shoulders back, and hands down by your sides.
- Hinge at the hips and push them back as if you are about to sit down on a chair or a bench. As you do this, bend at the knees and reach the arms forward for balance if you need.
- Slowly lower yourself downward until you thighs are parallel to the floor (or drop further into your squat if you are comfortable with it).
- Be sure you feel balanced and set most of the weight back into your heels.
- Keep the back straight, hips aligned and feet facing forward.
- At the bottom of your squat, push off with the heels as if you are separating the floor with your feet and come back up to standing.
There you have it! You did a squat. It's not so hard, right? If you think that one is easy, maybe you are ready for some of these:Goblet Squat: This variation of the squat is performed with either a kettlebell or a dumbbell held with both hands just in front of the chest. It adds extra resistance and incorporates more of your stabilizing muscles as it throws off your balance from back to front a bit.Sumo Squat- The only difference with this type of squat compared to the traditional squat is the placement and direction of the feet. You're going to move your feet a bit further apart and point them outwards. This will incorporate more use of the inner thighs and the outer glutes.Jump Squat- I know I said squats are low impact, but this variation is not. With the jump squat, you're going to explode upwards as soon as you come to the bottom of your squat by pushing off with the heels. As you come to a landing, try to land as soft as possible transitioning right back into a squat in one smooth motion. Squat with Overhead Press- Performing this squat requires a barbell with the weight of your choice (or ability). You need to hold the barbell just in front of your shoulders as you squat down. As you come back up, simply press the bar up overhead until your elbows lock out. This can also be done with a set of dumbbells.