The Squat is a tough exercise, there is no denying that. However, due to popularity and craving to get that “peachy bum” look, it’s popularity has grown massively among female gym goers. You can’t scroll down a fitness page without a post targeted at women telling them to squat, or an advert claiming to give woman the “bum they want” with the latest squat challenge.
But what about men? Where are the adverts to get the males squatting? To be honest, there aren’t a lot, and that should change. Squats are one of the best exercises anybody can incorporate into a program, regardless of gender.
Women don’t need much convincing to squat any more. Men, however, may. So, gentlemen. Here’s the 10 quick reasons you should be getting under the barbell and squatting.
One note of caution before we begin: Start light and learn to squat properly before adding serious weight! Every squat you do should be below parallel and with proper posture, or it can become dangerous quickly. What does below parallel mean in a squat? The top of your leg at your hip must be below the top of your knee. Many people “squat” heavy weights but don’t quite hit this sort of depth, therefore avoiding the hardest part of the movement. These are in fact half and quarter squats. So start light and perfect the range of motion/technique before you go heavy! Now, onto those 10 reasons….
Increased Strength – The most obvious. Squats use every lower body muscle in ways that just can’t be achieved by machines like the leg press. You’re working the glutes, hamstrings, quads, hips, core and lower back throughout the whole movement. If that’s not going to get you strong, nothing will.
Reduced injury – Contrary to popular belief, squatting actually helps injury prevention and recovery. The strength it gives your core is key to avoiding back pain, and the way it targets muscles surrounding your knees and hips makes every day movements less likely to result in pain. Your stabilisers are worked fully here, making injury reduction a sure thing.
Flexibility – If you’re squatting properly, your flexibility will increase. You are forcing your body through an increased range of motion – below parallel ideally – with your entire hip complex benefitting.
Ultimate Core Workout – Many go to the gym in pursuit of abs, but are sit ups and leg raises really the way to do it? Squatters would strongly disagree. Not many exercises work the core as much as squats. Your core remains engaged throughout to keep you stable and stop you collapsing under the bar. It will remain tight and under pressure, working hard to keep you upright. Sit ups don’t come close.
Hormone Release – Squats stimulate the release of testosterone and growth hormone, meaning benefits are present throughout the entire body. This makes it a perfect way to kick-start any workout.
Burn Fat – Squats are huge calorie burners compared to other weight exercises, so are useful for more than just building muscle. The muscle they do build also leads to a faster metabolism, making squats vital to any fat burning routine.
Functional Movement – Squats are one of the best lifts for mimicking functional, real world movements. The muscles and movement used come into play throughout everyday life, such as getting into a car or picking something up. Squatting teaches your nervous system the proper way to do things, and it won’t be long until this translates into real world movements.
Bone Growth – Your bones react to strain placed on them like anything else. Increasing the mechanical load placed on them will cause stress, forcing them to recover and strengthen.
Multi-lift Benefits – Squats will improve more than just your squat. They not only add numbers to other lower body exercises like deadlift, but as mentioned can affect exercises throughout the whole body. They reveal muscular imbalances and activate muscles you didn’t know you had. Struggling to increase your bench press? It might sound strange, but try adding squats.
The Mental Edge – Let’s be honest, no first timer in the gym likes the idea of holding a huge weight across their back. It can be one of the most intimidating and mentally tough exercises there is. This is exactly why you should do it. You get used to squatting heavy weights and any other exercise you do will seem easy.
So there it is. For you men out there avoiding squats – now’s the time to stop the avoidance and start the squatting!