Even though the squat is considered by many to be a “leg” exercise, it’s really a full body movement that works just about every muscle group in the body when properly executed.
The squat is a extremely functional exercise that mimics a ton of natural movement patterns in everyday life. Squats and variations of the squat are the most useful exercises we can do when it comes to strength training and weight-loss.
We’ve been squatting since we were toddlers; as we get older and sit in unnatural positions all day – our squat form goes from perfect, to us not knowing how to squat correctly at all.
Squats are a compound movement – which means it’s a movement that uses more than one joint (your hip and knee joints) to complete. Because of the utilization of a large amount of muscle groups, they cause your body to increase our anabolic hormone production (in turn, helping us lose fat and gain lean muscle).
Increasing the strength in your knees and hips (and entire body) reduces your chance of injury while doing both athletic movements and everyday life tasks such as shoveling the driveway or standing up and sitting down.
General benefits you can expect to see from performing Squats:
- Build Muscle in Your Entire Body
- Make Real-Life Activities or tasks easier
- Burn massive amounts of calories
- Maintain Mobility and Balance
- Prevent Injuries
- Improve Posture
- Boost Your athletic performance — Jump Higher and Run Faster, become more explosive
- Have a strong posterior chain, core and entire body
- How to set up & execute proper squat technique
When starting the squat you must hinge your hips so that your butt travels backwards. Distribute the pressure on the heels of your feet and ensure your knees do not cross your toes.
Straight Head Position
A common mistake when equating is that people round their by looking down at their feet. By doing this neutral spinal alignment is lost making it very dangerous. Pick a spot in front of you and keep your eyes directly pointing forward during the range of motion.
Shoulders Back/Chest Out
By keeping your shoulder back and your chest out, your lower back will most likely have the correct natural curve. Try and protect your spine from having incorrect alignment as this places lots of stress on our back and can result in injury.
Athletic Stance, Toes Pointed Out
Use an athletic stance for the squat so that your knees are slightly bent, feet are firmly planted on the ground, and toes pointed outwards slightly, (roughly at 11pm and 1pm) which helps with stabilization.
Exhale Up/Inhale Down
Its very important to Inhale during the “eccentric” phase (way down), and exhale during the “concentric” phase (way up). Improper breathing can make you light headed, or nauseous and also can throw out your form during the final last reps of your squat.
Depth of the Squat
The range of motion of the squat primarily depends on your hip flexibility. If your hips are very flexible, then you may be able to squat “below parallel” (hamstrings are below parallel with the ground) and if you have poor hip flexibility, then you will be “above parallel”.
If you are new to the Squat try to aim for your hamstrings to be parallel with the floor, which deeply engages your thighs, hips, and glutes.