One of the best exercises for you, whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight (or both) HAS to be the squat. However, it’s also one of the most difficult exercises to do properly unless you actually know what you’re doing.
Squats work practically every single muscle in your body. Okay that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not far from the truth. They effectively work most of the major muscle groups of the butt, hips and thighs. Squats are also a versatile exercise. They can be done in almost any location, with or without the use of weights or equipment. Squat exercises are great for a total lower body workout.
Squats obviously help to build your leg muscles (including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves), but they also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building.
In fact, when done properly, squats are so intense that they trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone in your body, which are vital for muscle growth and will also help to improve muscle mass when you train other areas of your body aside from your legs
If you’re looking to burn fat, you want to do exercises that trigger as much of your body as possible so it’s all getting worked and exercised. One of the most time-efficient ways to burn more calories is actually to gain more muscle! For every pound of additional muscle you gain, your body will burn an additional 50-70 calories per day. So, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you will automatically burn 500-700 more calories per day than you did before.
Muscles used when doing Squats: Primary Muscles: Erector Spinae, Gluteus Maximus (glutes), Quadriceps, Hamstrings – also including the tendons that make up the borders of the space behind the knee. Secondary Muscles(Synergists/
Squat exercises thoroughly engage the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles, which helps to tone and strengthen the legs. Slowing the motion down makes the workout that much more intense. Doing squats gives the glutes a powerful workout, helping to tighten and lift the butt. To increase this effect, give your glutes an extra squeeze when returning to a standing position.
Squats engage the core muscles of the body. Abdominal and back muscles are needed to keep balance during the movement. The result is a tighter, flatter abdomen and a stronger lower back. Make a conscious effort to hold in your abdominal muscles while squatting down to increase this effect.
Here are more reasons why you should include squats to your workout routine:
- Functional Exercise Makes Real-Life Activities Easier Functional exercises are those that help your body to perform real-life activities, as opposed to simply being able to operate pieces of gym equipment. Squats are one of the best functional exercises out there, as humans have been squatting since the hunter-gatherer days. When you perform squats, you build muscle and help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance. All of these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world too.
- Maintain Mobility and Balance Strong legs are crucial for staying mobile as you get older, and squats are phenomenal for increasing leg strength. They also work out your core, stabilizing muscles, which will help you to maintain balance, while also improving the communication between your brain and your muscle groups, which helps prevent falls – which is incidentally the #1 way to prevent bone fractures versus consuming mega-dose calcium supplements and bone drugs.
- Increases Joint Flexibility Doing squats increases joint flexibility. The ankles, knees, hips and lower back are all utilized in the squatting motion. Be sure to maintain proper form to avoid injury. If you feel any pain in these areas, stop doing the exercises until the pain is gone.
- Prevent Injuries Most athletic injuries involve weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which squats help strengthen. They also help prevent injury by improving your flexibility (squats improve the range of motion in your ankles and hips) and balance, as noted above.
- Boost Your Sports Performance — Jump Higher and Run Faster Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a mom who chases after a toddler, you’ll be interested to know that studies have linked squatting strength with athletic ability.1 Specifically, squatting helped athletes run faster and jump higher, which is why this exercise is part of virtually every professional athlete’s training program.
- Tone Your Backside, Abs and Entire Body Few exercises work as many muscles as the squat, so it’s an excellent multi-purpose activity useful for toning and tightening your behind, abs, and, of course, your legs. Furthermore, squats build your muscles, and these muscles participate in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, helping to protect you against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Help with Waste Removal Squats improve the pumping of body fluids, aiding in removal of waste and delivery of nutrition to all tissues, including organs and glands. They’re also useful for improved movement of feces through your colon and more regular bowel movements.
How to Do a Common Squat Exercise
- Stand with your feet hip width apart.
- Tighten and pull in your abdominal muscles.
- Lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keep the motion slow.
- Stop when your legs are parallel to the floor.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds.
- Now press down onto your heels and slowly rise back up to a standing position.
- Be sure to rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Once you’re comfortable with doing squats, you can increase the difficulty by adding weights. Try holding dumbbells at shoulder level or use a barbell across your shoulders.
Adding weights to your squat routine engages the muscles of the upper body, essentially giving you a full body workout in one exercise. You can accomplish this with the use of a barbell, dumbbells or a weighted vest. When adding weights to your routine, start with lighter ones and build as your strength increases.
You can also use one dumbbell; hold it in front of you with both hands while squatting. It’s especially important to maintain proper form when using weights. Keep your knees aligned with your feet and don’t squat beyond the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Adding squats to your routine is a must. Squat exercises are a motion that your body uses often in real life. Whenever you bend down to pick something up, you’ll be thankful that, because you participated and completed the Abhaya Wellness 30 Day Squat Challenge, you’ll have the strength and flexibility to get the job done.