Walk into a gym and what do you see?
Guys are at the bench press and preacher curl. They want big chests and bulging biceps.
Girls are on an elliptical and stair master. They want to be skinny and have a nice booty.
Everyone is always doing some kind of ab workout.
We all want to look fit, in shape, and emphasize certain parts of our body.
But what nobody does?
And if you do squats already, you’re awesome. I mean it.
It’s the most basic exercise there is and it’s packed with way too many benefits for you to not include in your workout routine. In a New York Times article, Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at McMaster University says that the squat, “activates the body’s biggest muscles, those in the buttocks, back, and legs.” If you want to get a great physique, you should be squatting. It helps you to emphasize everything you want in your body anyways, so why not?
Guys, if you want a bigger upper body.
Girls, if you want to be leaner and have a nice butt.
If you want more defined abs.
It’s no surprise where I’m going with this so . . .
It’s a simple exercise and it’ll be your best friend when it comes to kicking ass in life and looking awesome. They’re called squats. If you finish this article and aren’t squatting, I hate you.
If you want to do something productive today though, learn more about squats, and keep your eyes glued to the page. It’s about to get broken down:
The Benefits of Squats
How to Do a Squat
How Low Should You go?
The Benefits of Squats
In a survey taken by askmen.com, women had rated the butt as the most attractive part of the male body. That’s right fellas, not abs, not biceps, and not your chest. Your ass.
So, lose the skinny jeans. For real.
I was going to do research on how attracted the male is to the women’s butt, but I’m a guy. I can tell you with 100% confidence and first hand experience that guys love women’s butts. We look at them. We talk about them. I mean, there’s been hit songs made about women’s butts. Guys know it. Women know it. It’s nothing groundbreaking. Guys like women’s butts. A lot.
We all like butts. Both guys and girls. But besides the benefit of being more attractive to the opposite sex, it’s also a very convenient and efficient exercise.
Squats are a compound exercise, meaning that they use multiple major muscle groups during the performance of the exercise. This is good because it develops overall strength and muscle. Body weight squats are great, but if you can, backed squats with loaded weight will yield even greater results.
According to Mark Rippetoe, it’s also the only exercise that allows for the direct training of a movement pattern known as the hip drive. It’s important to note. He writes that it’s the only exercise that strengthens the entire posterior chain, which includes the gluteus, hamstrings, and adductors.
If that isn’t enough, Charles Poliquin cites in his article that the benefits of squatting are as follows:
-Better functional mobility
-Greater bone mineral density
-Stronger Core Musculature
-Prevents lower back pain
-Develops Stronger Abs
I’m not sure if I can be any clearer.
But I’m going to try anyway.
Squats are extremely beneficial. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be doing them.
But how do you do squats?
Glad you asked.
How To Do Squats
There are different variations of squats that you’ll come across. Front squats, power squats, Olympic squats, box squats, etc. I’m not going to cover all of them here. There’s really no need to.
When we talk about squats, I mean the “athletic squat”. The one that will give you the most bang for your buck in terms of strength and overall fitness.
Here’s a step by step breakdown from Starting Strength (non affiliate link):
- Step under and grip the bar as close to your back as possible, with a thumbless grip. Your back should be supporting the bar.
- Once you feel the weight on your back, step back from the rack, stance about shoulder width, with your toes pointed outward.
- Keep your chest and back tight, take a deep breath and begin to squat. ConcentrateHow To Perform The Squat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)on pushing your hips back, the rest of your body will follow. Look at a spot about 6 to 10 feet ahead of you on the floor.
- Make sure that you shoulders, chest, back, and butt are tight, while you descend down into the bottom of the squat. You thighs should be at least parallel to the floor, if your hips are flexible enough, go lower.
- As you raise yourself out of the bottom of the squat – your butt and shoulders should
be being pushed upward at the same time. Maintain tightness in your lower back and torso, and exhale towards the top of the repetition to ensure that you remain tight.
How Low Should You Go?
There has been much speculation and debate on what depth you should be striving for during the squat. Or if squatting is even safe. What!? Where does all this crap come from?
Squatting is one of the most natural positions that the human body assumes. And you don’t need studies to back this up, just look at babies. They sit in a squat position and a full squat at that. Meaning that their butts are all the way down to the ground.
Indigenous cultures around the world assume the full squat position as their chair basically, most notably in Africa and Asia. And they can sit in a squat for hours on end. We got screwed because we sit in a chair all day, and that wreaks havoc on your hamstrings and lower back. Read to learn more about that here.
But still, we’re nervous about it. Despite all of it’s benefits. So let’s put some of those concerns to rest.
Does full squatting increase the likelihood of injury?
First and foremost, squatting with improper form causes injuries. Not squatting in and of itself. It’s important to note that any exercise without proper form is asking for something bad to happen. So always make sure you have good form.
When you see someone at the gym squatting and barely getting parallel, that’s not a squat. Most of the times I see this with guys who can’t check their ego and need to use heavy weight. Get over yourself. Scale down. That’s an injury waiting to happen. I must say that most of the women I’ve worked with are typically great with hitting a low depth on their squats. Kudos. You just don’t use enough weight. So load up the bar.
Is it bad for your knees?
A famous study by Dr. Klein in the 1960′s suggested that Olympic lifters had an increased incidence of ligament laxity when performing the deep squat. In plain English, the study proved that weightlifters who were squatting below parallel were essentially getting loose ligaments. These were seen in the ACL, MCL, and LCL of the knee.
My beef with this study is apparent. It was performed in the 1960′s. But never the less, it’s a study and it’s used as ammunition to argue that performing a deep squat is bad for you. That’s dumb.
So check it out, upon further research, I found a great study conducted by the Copenhagen University University Hospital which compared two groups of males squatting above parallel and below parallel. The study showed that there is more force on your knee when squatting above parallel as opposed to squatting below parallel. In fact, squatting below parallel actually strengthened the muscle and function of the knee.
Should you just go parallel?
The answer really depends. It depends on your hip flexibility, strength, and experience with squatting. My advice is that if you can’t get that low, don’t. Just go as low as you can and progressively work on your form until you can get there. If you can get all the way past parallel, then do it.
Squatting is not only a natural movement for your body, it’s an excellent exercise to accomplish many of the things that we want to accomplish with our physique anyway. Burn fat, build muscle, tighter abs, bigger butts, lean look, and it’s great for your posture!
So, don’t not do squats at the gym. Or I’ll seriously hate you forever. Squats are good for your. And don’t do quarter or half squats. If you’re going to squat, get low. Real low. Or, as low as you can. And, work on that ass.
Have a good one and see you next week!
If you have any questions feel free to shoot me a note! And as always, if you like the article share with your friends!