Is the squat the king of all exercises? If you could only perform one exercise for the rest of your life, is the squat the right choice? Well one advantage with squats is that it works a many muscles at the same time and is a compound exercise. Because you can lift a lot heavier weight than almost all other exercises doing a squat, it’s super effective for gaining overall strength and muscle. So in this video I will break down the benefits of the squat.
An exercise so common, something that we do every day without realizing. When you pick something up, when you sit down on a chair or when you’re done taking a shit. The squat is long range motion that involves the whole body in it’s movement, hence it’s commonly dubbed the king of all exercises.
Indeed your legs do most of the work, however your abs and lower back muscles are also heavily involved in stabilizing the torso when balancing the bar. This is the reason why you can use so much weight when you squat, because you recruit more muscles to push the weight. A full range squat with heavy weight will work the following muscles:
Legs. The quads, hamstrings, adductors, glutes and calves are all engaged in the squat.
Lower back. The lower back must resist the the downward force of the bar and keep the spine in neutral position. This will strengthen the back muscles and also improve your posture.
Abs. Similarly to the lower back, your abs will be engaged to keep your spine neutral when you squat.
Arms. In order to keep the bar from moving, you will work your arms. You won’t get a sick bicep peak from squatting but it will definitely put some size on your arms.
So let’s go through some of the benefits of squatting with weights.
- You will gain strength. Because squats works your whole body, you will increase your overall strength which is beneficial for sports, your daily life and if someone is trying to smack you down on the streets.
- You will also build muscle. This kinda goes hand in hand with strength and having a solid squat routine will help in building more muscle because the heightened release of human growth hormone.
- Burn fat. Squats along with deadlifts burn more energy than any other exercise because it allows you to work with heavier weights and you recruit more muscles. Your metabolism will also increase long after you’re done working out which in turn burns fat.
- Increase fitness and overall health. Doing heavy squats over time will decrease your resting heart rate and blood pressure while at the same time increase cardiovascular fitness.
- Increase your explosiveness. Squats improves your ability to generate force fast and it will give you an advantage when you need to be quick and explosive. If you want to run away from someone that’s trying to smack you down on the streets, do more squats.
- Squats will strengthen your bones. Since squats is one of the heaviest exercises you can do, the weight will literally compress you when you’re under the bar. This will make your bones grow stronger and will be less likely to break.
- Increases Flexibility. Since squats is one of the exercises where you actually need to be decently flexible to even perform it, it’s safe to say you will not become inflexible from squatting. It moves your legs through a full range of motion, and the key is to have your hips go below parallel in relation to your knees.
- Improves your balance. As long as you don’t to your squat is the smith machine, you have to balance heavy weights while moving it up and down. It also improves your coordination along with your proprioception, your ability to feel your body move through space.
What about injuries to the knees? According to The national strength and conditioning association, “Injuries attributed to squat may result not from the exercise itself, but from improper technique, pre-existing structural abnormalities, other physical activities, fatigue or excessive training.”
NSCA also states in their studies that squats improve knee stability if lifting technique does not place rotary stresses on the knee. “Squats, when performed correctly and with appropriate supervision, are not only safe, but may be a significant deterrent to knee injuries.”
So squats is not bad for your knees, but will actually strengthen and prevent injuries to your knees if you perform the squat correctly that is.
Squat down until your hips go below your knees, no more than that is necessary. Your knees should move slightly past your the toes for appropriate joint loading. It will move your legs and body through a full range of motion and strengthens your leg muscles evenly. Your knees has to create space for your belly when you get down, so angle your knees out about 30 degrees. You also want your toes to be angled out inline with your knees. This will keep your knee joints safe and strong.
What do think guys, is the squat the single best exercise ever? It will certainly make you stronger and faster, but it’s not easy work doing a proper squat routine. However there is no progress without struggle. I would also recommend you to check out stronglifts.com, they have a big guide on how to perform the perfect squat.