Do You Know Squat?
We have all heard that we should be including squats in our routine, however, do you know how to squat? A vast majority of people are unsure why squats are so important. Many are curious on how to start, but more importantly, proper squat form and how to safely implement them.
While there are many advantageous reasons to squat and ways to incorporate them, here are 3 amazing benefits to squats and how to implement them into your weekly workout.
Benefit #1: Full Body Definition
One of the biggest benefits of a squat is that it includes several different muscle groups. When we are speaking in terms of fat loss, this is a significant bang for your buck. More muscle work equals more energy required and more caloric burn.
Not only do we get the work of our three biggest muscle groups (glutes, quads, and hamstrings), we get additional work stabilizing with our back and core.
Pro Tip: You will feel a significant jump in intensity in comparison to isolated exercises by adding a kettlebell in front or a barbell to your back.
Benefit #2. Longevity Benefits
Whether we think about it or not, a squat is an extremely functional exercise. Every day we sit down and stand up in a variety of ways. The more correctly and efficiently we can do this motion, the longer into our life we will be able to maintain this movement pattern.
This means taking your squats to at least parallel, if not further, to maintain your range and strength. Train to the depth you still want to have in life at 50, 60, or 70+ years old. Last I checked, most chairs are still built to 90 degrees.
Last I checked, most chairs are still built to 90 degrees.
Benefit #3. Build That Backside
Glutes are a primary worker in a squat. This means squats and their many variations are integral in building and shaping a booty. The big muscles on the back of our legs and hamstrings also help on the drive up. Especially while our entire back is aiding through support and stabilization.
However, squats don’t only aid in the aesthetic construction of our back view. They also aid in its strength. Our entire posterior chain has to turn on during the squat.
This means every muscle that pulls us into the correct posture and counteracts the position our computer chairs put us in… is working.
It’s no mystery – Squats build a backside that is aesthetically pleasing and functionally strong.
Squat Injury Prevention
Most injuries we see at the knee are caused by weak stabilizers. Strengthening the muscles that support the knee’s proper alignment is an extremely important preventative measure. You want to know that in every stand-up, sit down, step up, and jump… your knee is in a correct position.
Weak stabilizers will cause wear and tear injuries over time. More importantly, they can cause an immediate injury in an explosive movement.
Performing squats help reinforce and strengthen proper knee position.
How To Incorporate Squats:
Because all of our bodies are built differently, the correct squat for you may look different than the person next to you. There are, however, a few steadfast check-ins you can do to help find your personal squat.
1. Find Your Depth
The first check is to squat as low as you can with your heels flat on the floor. If you go onto your toes and heels come up, you’ve gone too far. Once that position is found, you will do the same check but for your back.
Here… you want to make sure you only go as low as your back stays, in a neutral position. This means – if you were to look at your spine in an x-ray from the side, it would appear as a direct diagonal from your head to your tailbone.
If your pelvis tips under, you’re too low. Your lowest depth with flat feet and neutral spine will be your depth — for today.
The goal is always to have a greater range of motion as long as we are in a safe position.
2. Knee Position
Finding a safe position should always take priority. Knees are one of the biggest compromises I see on a squat. You want to make sure that your knees never cave in towards your midline.
Knees should stay in line with the toes or a little outside.
This will ensure that you are not putting any unnecessary pressure on your ligaments. It also best to note if your heels are down, your knees shouldn’t be noticeably past the front of your toes.
3. Know What’s Working
The biggest disservice you can give yourself is doing exercises without figuring out what is working. If you do a squat knowing that your entire lower body should be working, but only fell your quads, take a pause and reassess.
Adjust what you are mentally trying to activate and/or slightly adjust your position. This will help you recruit your glutes and hamstrings to help out. What is the point of trying to “Build a backside” if you are only going to work the front of your thighs?
What is the point of trying to “Build a backside” if you are only going to work the front of your thighs?
4. Add Weight And/Or Intensity
Like every exercise and fitness regime, our body adapts to any stimulus after two weeks. Squats are no different. To continue receiving the benefits of your squats, you will eventually need to increase the intensity by adding weight. This can come in a variety of ways including (but not limited to): barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, medicine balls, and more.
You can also increase the intensity by adding a plyo aspect like jump squats or box jumps (see A & B above). This increases the force required for power as well as the force required to your body down on descent.
Like every exercise, make sure you look up proper technique for holding added weight or transitioning to plyometrics.
Start incorporating proper squat form into your weekly workout routine to start reaping the benefits of having an overall better figure and an even better backside!
Note: All new movements and environments can be scary at first. However, the only way to get better is to start trying. Start with your body weight and master that first. Your safety should always take priority. Second, ask questions.
While the gym can be intimidating, many fitness professionals first learned a squat from someone else. Most trainers and seasoned gym goers will gladly help you. All you have to do is ask.
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