Squats could very well be the holy grail of all exercises.
Though some may tote a different exercise as more important, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't recognize squats are a must-have in any workout routine. But don't take my word for it. Wait... do take my word for it! Though, first I've got some cold hard facts to back up why, if you're not squatting already, you should be.
Squats don't just build and tone muscle in your legs & booty, they do so for your entire body. You heard right, squats will help you build in your upper body, core... everywhere. Why? They create an anabolic environment, which is fancy for a "muscle-building" environment, and trigger the release of testosterone & HGH (human growth hormone). This means if you are trying to make gains in your chest, adding in squats will for real help you out. If this fact alone doesn't send you to the gym to grab a bar and drop that a** to the grass, I don't know what will. Wait... yes I do, all these other squat-tastic facts...
If you hate cardio but want to shave calories, squats are your best friend! As a general calculation, if you multiply your weight by .096 you will get the number of calories you'll burn for each minute of squatting. That means, if you weigh 160lbs, you'll burn 15.36 calories per minute of squats. This isn't even including when weight is added! Think of all the cheat day treats you can rack up if you begin squatting more. Yeah, I thought that might help convince you.
BE FREE OF INJURY
Having strong stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissue play a big role in preventing injuries. And you know what helps to strengthen all of 'em? Yup, squats. Also, as a bonus, squats help improve functional flexibility and range of motion.
Think about how we move day-to-day... I bet you can think of a handful of times you just squat doing everyday tasks. Picking up your laundry hamper? Tying your shoes? Busting a sick dance move at da club? Training squats help prevent those "I hurt my back picking up a feather" injuries and gives you greater ease when executing everyday activities. This being said these benefits can only be applied when a squat is done properly! If you're not sure you're doing it right... hell, even if you are sure you're doing it right, it's beneficial to book a session with a trainer to make sure you're squatting within the letter of the law. #SquatLawyer These tips should help in the meantime:
- Warm up (you heard me, don't skip your warm-up or Santa won't bring you anything next year!)
- Check that your feet are about hip width apart
- Spine is neutral, core engaged
- Bend at the knee, allowing your hips & ankles to bend as well, but NEVER letting your knees extend over your toes
- Lower to 90-degrees (if you can keep your balance while doing so) or make your squat a little shallower if you're struggling & work up to 90 degrees
- Keeping your spine neutral and chest up, push through your legs back up to standing
- Pro tip: breathe in as you lower and breathe out as you push to standing