Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Squat, A Great Exercise

Some people say that the squat is the king of exercises when it comes to weight training. Some people say that it is the king of ALL exercises, period. Others think that it should be avoided at all costs. Many people have strained there lower backs with squats are have popped there knees with them. Here at though, we love squats! They are seen as one of the best exercises one can do and deserve an article written solely about them.

The squat is one of the oldest exercises known to man. It is one of the three main power training movements, the others being, deadlifts and bench presses. Although there are squat machines that people can use to perform the exercise, which do help one focus all there energy into using the muscles of the thigh only, many still feel that the free weight squat is the way to go for size and strength.

So what are the major benefits of squatting?

Will blow up your lower body – Squatting is the best exercise if muscle gain is your goal. Not only will it make your thigh muscles grow but it will also make the muscles of your backside and to a lesser extent the muscles of the side of your torso and calves grow. Some people may not like this and if that’s the case, watch how much squatting you do, but others who are really thin or who are looking to pack on some quality muscle will welcome this type of growth.

Will work your cardio – After performing a few sets of squats with reps more than 12 per set one will notice that they are breathing more heavily than with other weight training movements and that they may be starting to sweat. Since squatting uses up a lot of energy it is also a good way to combine strength training with cardiovascular conditioning.

Will help you lift more on other exercises – Some people will not agree with this, but others (including myself) have sworn that by doing heavy squats, they are able to lift heavier on other exercises. This in turn leads to further gains in strength and body mass. Whatever the reason this is, who knows, but maybe it will work for you too.

Will train your mind – There is no exercise more daunting in the gym than the heavy squat. Having to load a heavy bar full of clanging metal plates into ones shoulders, and then having to squat with them, can seriously challenge the confidence of some. On the other hand, one of the best feelings one can have is to know that they took on that heavy squat and completed the required reps, pushing through the pain and blocking out all thoughts of quitting from ones mind. By squatting heavy, one can eventually develop a “never back down attitude” which can spread into other areas of ones life. This may be the most important reason to squat.

Weather you are a martial artist, any other kind of athlete or just a normal person, im sure you will agree that the above benefits apply to all. For this reason, next time you see that squat bar and are intimidated because you may be new to squatting, don’t be. Start slow, with light weight, grab a spotter or a trainer to show you the correct technique just in case and after a few squat sessions, start noticing the beneficial differences it brings.

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Elias said...

I did a heap of pylometric squats this evening, I love squats, swear by them.

I don't like the technique showed in the photo's though; I've been told that the knees should not go past the toes. Widening the stance should be enough to prevent that from happening, and this will relieve most of the pressure placed on the knee, as well as removing a lot of the load from the quads and put more of the load on the glutes.

Unfortunately for me I can't squat particularly heavy weights, and if I try I can't complete the full range of motion.

It's one of my current goals though :)

MARKS said...

ELIAS - When doing heavy squats it is always encourged to wrap the knees. The wraps act as a sort of extra ligament to the knee joint, allowing one to squat with heavy weight quite comfortably.

Yes, I also do not squat as low as in the pictures but do like to get my thighs parallel with the floor. A great way to work up to heavy squats while still going low enough is to use the smith machine.

Good luck said...


Dand: This exercise is the primary exercise used by the ancient Hindu Pehalwan (Wrestlers), who fight in the dust of Akhara (ring) covered with various herbs and special river sand. Even as a kid, when I used to get out of line, my dad would punish me by making me do 10/20 Dand (squats, as you say).

Even if you do MORE squats and dont use weights (heavy ones), you will get the many benefits, apart from muscle growth. Some Vaidya (traditional Hindu physicians) also advise Dand to lower BP and strengthen stress resistance.

Of course, for many of you this will be old fashioned and trite, I just added my 2 bits to broaden the horizon.


Glowing Face Man said...

I love squats... you know you're a squatter when you have a burning grudge against guys who do curls in the squat cage =P Anyway, have you heard of one-legged squats.. now *those* are intense :)

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