This all-important move that I’ll get to in a minute is rare to see performed perfectly. In fact, I’d put it in the same category of a perfectly executed Kettlebell swing…
A Rare Thing of Beauty!
In fact a 2014 review of studies into this one exercise (published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research), considered it to be the world’s best exercise.
I consider it to definitely rank in the top 2 or 3 moves. And certainly one no man or woman of any age should leave out of their workout.
What is this big secret exercise that many people avoid and few perform perfectly? “The Squat”
Here Are Some Key Facts About The Squat…
1. The more weight you lift , the more muscle tissue you will engage and activate. This is why it is important to increase the amount you lift over time.
2. You will activate different muscles by altering your squat stance. For example: a wide stance with your hips rotated outward will activate more of your glutes and inner leg adductor muscles.
3. You will work your muscles more by going down to a full parallel squat. (thighs parallel to the floor). If you don’t get that low you will missing out on the full benefit of this move to build your legs and buttocks.
4. By going even below parallel (into a low squat), you will activate and work your gluteals more and hamstrings and quads less.
5. You will be able to lift less weight with free-weight squats than with a Smith or squat machine, but you will benefit in these important ways…
- Research shows that you will activate over 40% more muscle.
- You will also get the bonus of activating your largest calf muscle, the gastrocnemius.
- A squat with dumbbells can easily be turned into a full-body exercise. For example: perform a deep squat with a dumbbell in each hand and as you raise up to standing, perform a bicep curl then go right into an over head press.Lower the weights to your sides and go into the next squat. I often do this with 30-35 weights in each hand/sets of 15-25 and turn it into an interval workout. Just be sure to pick the weights that make you work but that you can safely handle.
6. Squatting is a key movement that you need to perform every day. You squat when you sit, get into a car, use the toilet, pick up something off the floor, work outdoors…
Compare this movement to a simple weight lifting exercise like the biceps curl that has very limited day-to-day functional use, and you begin to see the difference.
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7. Strengthening the muscles in your legs and buttocks is critical to strength, balance and mobility as we age. I have treated far too many people (even as young as 50) who have never performed strength and weight exercises who start to suffer with mobility and balance issues for this very reason. Building and maintaining strength is serious business if you want to age well.
8. Squats will make your entire body stronger. In fact, all weight-bearing exercise will strengthen your muscles, ligaments, joints and even your bones. Again this is a key component in not only looking great but also laying the foundation for you to stay active and vibrant into your 70’s, 80’s and beyond.
9. Squats will help you prevent injuries in your lower body (muscles. ligaments and joints). Think about being stronger, more resilient and flexible when you: run, jump, cut and twist.
10. Squats are a fantastic way to improve your vertical jump. Back in my college days, my vertical jump was one of the most important factors in playing on championship volleyball teams in NY, VT and Switzerland.
Later in my college, this same functional strength allowed me to play (on scholarship) prop forward on one the premier rugby teams in the country. Although I was much smaller (at 212 lbs) than many of the props I had to butt heads with, my back, core and leg strength allowed me to run with the big dogs.
11. Many people (men and women alike) don’t do squats and other leg exercises because THEY ARE HARD! I have lost count of how many seriously buff guys at my gym wear sweat pants – even in the heat of Summer – because they want to hide their chicken legs.
When I asked a friend at the gym recently why he didn’t ever seem to work his legs (he weighs about 210 and has an impressive upper body) he said that he didn’t like to work his legs because it was too hard.
OK, so squats (and lunges, leg extensions, hamstring curls…) are tough. If you lift enough weight, you will probably feel like throwing up after some sets. However, you will build mental toughness by doing these moves. Guaranteed.
12. Need one more reason to squat? You will build a higher, tighter and better looking butt. And, you will do it faster than with any other type of exercise.
As you can see, there are many reasons to never leave squats out of your workout routine again. We want to thank you for joining us and also for sending along our website link to your friends.
We would love to hear from you…nice comments, challenges you are having with your workouts or weight loss.