Many people can't do it right, many people think they do it right. Well.. many people just do it. But do they understand why they should be or need to be squatting? The Squat is one of the Big Three Lifts in powerlifting and is commonly used as an exercise to help build leg strength no matter who you are. The physios use it, the strength coaches use it, the celebrity trainers use it. It is the most common exercise but again, do they all know why they should be or need to be using it?
Here's why I am writing this because I want you to know why you should be squatting.
The Squat uses all the major muscles in the lower limb and to be technical, these muscles are your quadriceps, your hamstrings, your glutes, your calves and tibialis anterior (isometrically). Other parts of your body that will be utilized will be your core musculature, your shoulder gridle and the muscles around and your brain. So technically, you use almost your full body to perform the squat and not just your legs. Then you may ask why not the arms? My answer: you do not walk with your arms right?
That brings me to my rationale to why everyone should know why they should be squatting. Because we are using our legs everyday: to get out of bed, to walk around, to get out of the office chair, to pick up something from the ground. So everyday we use our legs to help us with some activity we are involved in and if we have weak legs, we are going to be weak doing the activity.
However, the benefit of not only helping us with our daily activities is not the only reason we should squat. The Squat is able to do so much more for us. Here is how:
If you are able to squat right, meaning that you can get into a depth with thighs parallel or lower to the ground, it shows that you have flexibility in the glutes, hamstrings, quads and mobility in the hips to get into that position. And if you can do that with an external load, it means you are strong throughout that range of motion. So next time when you pick something up, just assess yourself and see how low you can go in your squat stance and see where the tightness lies. The areas that are tight are the areas that are hindering you from a solid squat position.
Think of a back squat, between the load and the hips lies your core. If you do not have the core stability in between, your spine will probably crumble under the load so when you squat down, you probably would not be able to get back up into a standing position. So working on your squats help build your core stability as you have to maintain posture of your torso to facilitate completing the movement of the squat. And the heavier you go, the more stress is placed in your core to maintain stability. So if you can squat proper, you are actually building up core strength while building leg strength in a single exercise.
We all know if we build up a muscle to be able to handle a certain load, anything below that amount of weight will be easy to lift. So similarly, if you are able to squat more than your bodyweight, lifting something less would be peanuts! From an athlete's point of view, that would be very beneficial in enhancing their performance. From the layman's point of view, your daily chores would be so much easier if you had that strength. Running for the train, carrying your groceries, moving house.. Without that strength, you will end up not being able to perform these simple activities on your own. And we are not all that rich to get someone to do it for us. And from a sustainable point of view, you want to be able to do everything on your own and not depend too much on technology. So strong legs = ease in performing daily activites. Simple as that.
Well, there is some level of vanity in each and everyone of us. Many gym junkies go to the gym and work on the visible muscles i.e. boobs and guns. But when you look lower (not in the nether regions but lower), they have things termed by many as chopsticks or chicken feet. The disportional view of their upper body to their lower body is not one to be admired. Everything needs to be in balance. Moreover, by working your legs, it helps you increase hormone levels in your body overall which promotes overall muscle growth. So if you want a bigger upper body, work your legs too and you will see yourself becoming a beast. And for the ladies, shying away from squats is a bad idea! Building the muscles in the legs actually help burn more fat overall and eventually, with overall fat loss around the body, the legs will look slimmer and toner. Plus, guys and girls all want to look good naked. Imagine if you undress and you see that your legs are toned, how good would that feel.
Beautiful Squat by Anatoly Pisarenko.
So, with these obvious benefits, now do you understand why you should be squatting? If not just drop me a message and I can explain further.
Disclaimer: Too much squatting also has its down-sides. One of them is not being able to find pants to fit your thigh girth (Don't worry ladies, you need alot more than just squatting to build up big legs so don't be afraid to squat). But why not when you have so many other benefits for that?