Why Everyone Should Put Squats Into Their Workout
Walk into any gym and I’m sure you will see someone doing a squat exercise – bodyweight, with a barbell, swissball, dumbbells – you will see many variations.
Squats for fat loss
Squats are one of the best exercises you can perform, as not only do they use every muscle in the lower-body, but they use many more muscles throughout the whole body to stabilise you whilst performing the exercise. Since squats use so many muscles at once they are a fantastic exercise to include in any fat loss program, as the more muscles you use, the more calories/energy you expend.
Squats for athletic performance
In any sport that requires lower-body strength and power, the squat is an essential exercise to aid in increased athletic/sports performance. Performing squats will increase strength in the body’s posterior kinetic chain.
The posterior chain is simply a group of ligaments, tendons and muscles that are on the back side of the body (posterior). Examples of muscles include the calves, hamstrings, butt (gluteus maximus) and lower back muscles. A strong posterior chain is very important in sports performance, whether you want to jump higher, run faster or simply lift more weight.
Squats are functional and can prevent injury
Squats are a great functional exercise and play a part in injury prevention, so learning how to perform squats correctly will aid you in your everyday life.
I’ve had many clients tell me that they can’t do squats. When this happens I ask them to sit down on a bench/chair and then stand straight back up (without rolling forward) – there you just performed a squat! If you find getting in and out of a chair difficult, learning how to do squats correctly and developing the right muscles, will make this everyday activity much easier.
As mentioned above, squats can play a part in preventing injuries. For example, many knee problems are often related to an underdeveloped posterior chain. The squat can improve posterior chain weaknesses, and therefore help to prevent these knee problems.
Factors that limit people from performing squats correctly
I see many people in the gym performing squats with terrible technique, which can lead to injuries. Factors that limit people from performing squats correctly are mobility and stability.
Mobility: Limited mobility/tightness in the hips, hamstrings and calves will impinge on your ability to perform a squat with good technique.
Stability: Weakness in the core muscles and posterior chain (e.g glutes and hamstrings) will make your body unstable when trying to perform a squat.
These two factors are generally linked. E.g people who have tight hip flexors will often have weak hamstrings.
Improving stability and posterior chain weaknesses can be achieved by performing a body weight box squat. This is a squat where a ‘box’ is used as a guide. Box squats teach people initiate the squat movement from the hips instead of the knees.
Learning how to perform squats with good technique will aid you in your fitness goals – whether they are for fat loss, toning, strength or power.