Squats are one exercise which should be part of everyone’s workout routine – regardless of age, gender or fitness goals. They’re not just for the legs or glutes – they benefit the whole body in numerous ways. Whether you’re looking to shed pounds, gain muscles, maintain mobility or run faster, the squat will help. So, in a nut shell, squats aren’t going anywhere – so you might as well learn how to do it properly for the best results. 🙂
Here are some benefits of squats:
- Squats build muscle all over:
Squats is a multi-joint exercise which not only works your legs but also your lower back and your complete core area (comprised of 23 muscles). It builds an anabolic environment (release of human growth hormone and testosterone) which is vital for general body growth. This leads you to gain muscle not just on your legs but all over your body. Body building legend John McCallum aptly puts it: ” Your upper body bulk is determined by the size of your chest, and the size of your chest is determined by the size of your rib-box…the surest, faster way to enlarge your rib box is combining deep breathing with heavy leg work. Heavy leg work and deep breathing will make your physique dreams come true”
- Squats Enhance Circulation:
One of the first benefits of squats is that they improve the circulation. The circulatory system relies heavily on bodily movement to function properly, which is why exercise – including squats – is one of the best preventative or remedial steps you can take for poor circulation. A healthy flow of blood and regular stretching of the muscles will prevent cellulite by allowing more oxygen and nutrients to travel to the important organs of the body.
- Increase flexibility and prevent injuries:
Flexibility is a key factor in injury prevention. Our muscles, tendons and ligaments become less elastic with age so doing all we can to slow down this process is a good idea. If you sit in front of a computer all day, or have a sedentary job, then you should be especially diligent about maintaining flexibility. Doing squats regularly will see you limber up and become more flexible as they involve bending and stretching of the leg muscles including the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
- Burn fat:
squats are a very efficient way of burning fat – as this process occurs even after you’ve stopped exercising…something that doesn’t happen with cardio. One of the most time efficient ways to burn more calories is to gain more muscle! It’s said that, for every pound of muscle you gain, your body burns around 35-50 calories per day. So what better way to burn fat than by indulging in one of the best muscle building exercises. Squat on!
- Improve posture:
Squats will improve your posture as you’ll need to learn how to hold proper form when carrying out the movement. Upper body posture is of the utmost importance – your upper back, lower back, chest, shoulders and stomach all play a role in successful squatting. When you become aware of your form during exercise, this awareness will carry through to your day-to-day activities.
Not only do you need no specialist equipment or clothing to enjoy the benefits of squats, but they can be done anywhere…meaning there’s no excuse not to fit some minutes of squatting into your day.
Try squatting in the breakroom at work, while making your dinner or even in the living room. Any funny looks you get will be worth it for all the rewards and benefits squats bring!
How To Squat Properly:
As with many exercises, improper form means you won’t achieve the benefit of the exercise and, in some cases, it can be downright damaging to the joints.
To perform a basic squat you should:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward.
- Place your hands on your thighs, gaze upwards and lift your chest high.
- Bend your knees, placing weight on the heels, and sit back.
- Keeping the head and chest upright, slide your hands down your thighs, ending where your elbows reach your knees (your knees should not go beyond your toes!)
- Hold for five seconds.
- Rise up, pressing through the heels, and straighten out the hips until you’re in the starting position.
- Repeat 15 to 20 times, for 2 or 3 sets for beginners, and at least two to three times a week.
Now go forth and squat!