Squatting is a great functional compound exercise. Why, you might ask? Because we often need to pick up stuff from the ground during our daily lives.
It mimics the proper technique which we should use to pick up things from the ground, particularly if those things happen to be heavy. Because picking things up with a straight back places the least amount of possible stress on our back, thus reducing the chance for potential injuries.
Let me explain why and how everyone should squat.
How to perform a barbell back squat
1. Stand with the bar resting on your upper-back. (Trapezius muscles.)
2. Squat down while pushing your knees slightly outwards and keeping your back straight.
3. Make sure to squat below parallel. (Full range of motion.) This means your hips should be lower than your knees.
4. Stand back up and make sure your knees keep pointing slightly outwards.
5. Fully extend your knees and hips.
6. Repeat for as much reps as necessary.
Why you should squat
Let’s list the reasons why squatting is an advantage.
Builds strength and muscle
This will enable us to build more strength and muscle mass because more muscles are being trained at the same time.
Secondly, squatting is a movement we naturally use during the day. We use it when we want to stand up and when we want to lift something up from the ground. This means it’s a very functional exercise that we use many times during our everyday lives.
It will make your ass and legs look great
This is because you gain muscle definition in your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings.
I mean, what’s not to like? For the girls who are worried about getting big legs when squatting heavy weights, don’t. Women aren’t predisposed to gain a lot of muscle mass when lifting heavy. It will however help you make improvements in strength and muscle definition.
It will keep you flexible
Squatting below parallel will help to keep you flexible and injury free.
How many people do you see lifting objects from the ground while arching their back? A lot! And this is not the correct way to do it because it can potentially cause damage to your spinal discs, which in turn can lead to back problems like hernias.
Therefore, it’s important to let the biggest muscles in your body, the leg muscles, do the heavy lifting. Keep your back straight and let the legs do the work! Squatting with proper technique can even fix bad posture by improving muscle imbalances.
A lot of calories get burned because the barbell squat uses so many muscles at once.
This means that it’s one of the best exercises to burn off those excessive calories.
Increased testosterone levels
For men, the squat releases a ton of testosterone in the body because it’s such an intense exercise where a lot of muscles need to be used and coordinated at once.
These increased testosterone levels make it possible for us to gain a bigger amount of muscle mass and strength.
The release of endorphins when exercising and squatting makes us feel better and is a natural way of acting as a pain reliever.
This means that people who have a lot of joint problems or other injuries can benefit from squatting.
When not to squat
When you have a lower body or core injury
There are exceptions, but in these cases, I would always recommend training with light weights.
When you have bad form
Correct technique is always the most important thing when lifting, especially if you plan on going heavy. Make sure your lifting technique is on point before lifting heavier weights!
These are easier on the back, but in turn don’t allow you to lift as much weight than double legged squats do.
However, you can make this exercise more challenging by wearing a weighted vest or, if you don’t have one, putting on a backpack with heavy stuff in.
Deadlifts are another great compound exercise which targets mainly the leg muscles.
More core activity is required when performing deadlifts than squats which may be beneficial towards your weightlifting goals. Deadlifting heavy will have some carry over to your squatting performance, so it’s never time wasted.
Goblin squats are great for beginners who are still learning the lifting technique. It can also be used as an excellent warm up before lifting heavy with front or back squats.
However? I wouldn’t perform it as your main exercise if strength or muscle building is your goal, this is because weight loading is limited.
There are very few reasons not to squat. I would even go as far as to recommend squatting to virtually everyone. Be it for staying injury free or for rehabilitation after an injury.
For me personally, back squatting feels the most comfortable for my back. In my opinion, it’s essential to learn how to squat since most training programs such as my strength training program for beginners makes use of them as a staple exercise.
However, as weight loading progresses, more and more attention should be given to squatting with the right technique. As a matter of fact, the first thing every individual that wishes to squat should learn is how to squat properly.