Doing squatting exercises can help improve your balance, mobility, and strength. Starting simple is the key.
Babies are the master of functional movement and we could take a few cues from them once in a while. As soon as you could stand up, you were squatting. Chairs and toilet seats are inventions we as adults use daily, but what was life like before them? Many cultures still squat to work, sleep on the ground and use deep flexion in their joints and physical strength to get back up. While modern comforts tend make life easier, it is important to remind your body of its ability to move easily and functionally into and out of a squatting position. Take healthy eating for comparison, there are certain nutrients we were designed to eat to function at our fullest, and there are also movements that we are designed to perform to create optimal strength and function for the rest of the body. Our hips and ankles need to flex, knees must bend, and the stabilizing muscles and large muscle groups use gravity and downward resistance to build strength.
Squatting makes you faster and stronger
Building the muscles in the core and lower body allow for safer, more powerful movements. Even if you’re not an athlete who runs and jumps for sport, being able to react quickly and recover from stumbles can prevent injuries and increase longevity. If you are active or an athlete, squatting a deep range of motion with increased weight can measurably improve the vertical jump and sprint speed.
Squatting increases bone mineral density and builds connective tissue
Placing a safe amount of stress on your skeletal structure and joints is a good thing. A recent study showed supervised postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia that performed weighted squats were able to improve bone mineral density in the spine and neck. Furthermore, when a safe amount of resistance and downward pressure is added, the tendons and ligaments that stabilize joints can grow thicker making them less likely to tear or rupture.
Squats burn more calories per rep than any other exercise
If you want bang for your buck in the weight room, squats bring it all to the table. The quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core stabilizing musculature as well as the back and calves must work together to complete a squat which means several major muscle groups are at work. The more muscles utilized, the more calories burned for each rep. Squatting with a wide range of motion also causes the body to naturally release the hormones testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) which aid in burning fat and building muscle throughout the body.
Now that you know why to squat, here’s how to do it safely.
Form is king! The back and shins should remain parallel to each other and knees should stay in line with the forward position of the feet. If you are unsure how to correctly execute a squat, consult with a professional fitness trainer.
Start with bodyweight squats and slowly work your way up on resistance amounts. Even being able to stand up out of a chair without extra help is a great start to training the muscles for squatting
Focus on a wide range of motion rather than weight. This will ensure that you only lift what the body can safely handle while you gain strength and control in all of the right muscle groups.
The squat can be less of a workout and simply a technique for life. Next time you go to pick something up off the floor try squatting rather than hinging at the hips. Maybe hang out there for a few minutes to stretch and enjoy the benefits!
If you are adding squats to your gym routine, always remember to warm up your muscles and stretch!