Squats: Why Aren’t You Doing Them?

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The best instructional guide on squats I’ve ever seen:


(Credit: EliteFTS.com)

Not only do these guys show you every element of the exercise in an easy-to-follow, detailed manner, they explain how to uncover and remedy common mistakes in form and execution.

Proper squat form:

  • Begin the movement by pushing your hips and butt out behind you while keeping your back straight. Think “back and out” instead of “up and down”.
  • Keep your feet flat on the ground(your weight should be shifted to your heels, not your toes).
  • Begin the descent by pushing your knees forward until your hips/thighs form a parallel line with the floor (think “L” rotated 90 degrees to the right and that’s the shape you should form with your lower body relative to the floor).
  • Keep your back straight throughout the exercise.

Why should you squat?

It’s the single most effective resistance exercise one can perform for burning fat and sculpting a more ‘athletic’ appearance. Given a choice between doing commonly prescribed fat-burning exercises (e.g. walking, jogging for 40 minutes), you’d reach your fitness goals quicker and avoid joint and bone pain by utilizing a good squat program.

That goes for both men and women.

Little-known fact: Squats relieve knee and back pain.

Squats, performed with proper form, strengthen the muscles around the knee joint. Joint pain is the result of weak supporting musculature and poor posture. You have to prepare your body to handle the rigors of everyday life.. When you move, stretch, or even sit incorrectly, you invite discomfort and injury. If your joints and muscles are too weak or rigid to handle the stress of activity, your body compensates by shifting force to areas that were not mean to absorb them (read: your spine and back muscles).. Strengthening the load-bearing muscles around a joint facilitates proper movement and body-alignment, preventing many aches and pains.

Want to get bigger? Squats encourage growth by recruiting multiple muscle groups and inducing the secretion of muscle-building hormones like Testosterone.  Paired with the right nutrition plan, squats will jump-start any exercise program.

If sports performance is a priority, squats should be at the center of your training program.

There are two ways to enhance speed or vertical jump height:

1) Increase the force you can exert against the ground/gravity

2) Improve Technique (i.e. alter stride length, jump technique)

The greatest gains are had by increasing your ability to generate force.The stronger your legs, the faster you can run, the higher you can jump.

Your strength (and resulting speed and jumping ability) is a function of the force you can generate relative to your body weight. The only means to increase the speed you can propel your body mass is by reducing your mass (fat loss) or boosting the kinetic force you create.   The more force you can create relative to your body weight, the faster (or higher) you will be able to go– a real-life application of Isaac Newton’s Second Law of motion. A comprehensive resistance program is critical for achieving appreciable gains  in athletic performance.

Nate and Leon: Leg strength in action
Newton’s Laws of Motion….in motion.

If your training regimen omits lower-body lifts like squats and deadlifts, you’re leaving a lot of speed, quickness, and explosive ability on the table.

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