Why We Squat
No Limit Fitness Studio | NLFS CrossFit
If you’ve been to any of our classes or hired our trainers, you have undoubtedly been through several rounds of squatting. You’re used to hearing your trainer yell, “Knees out!” “Chest up!” “A little lower!”. There are numerous variations; air squat, back squat, front squat, overhead squat, goblet squat, box squat, etc…
So why do we squat? What’s the purpose of this exercise? Is your trainer/coach just in love with the idea of getting you so sore from squats that you have to walk awkwardly for the next couple of days? In short, no (okay maybe a little!). There are great reasons we have you squat early and squat often. Check them out below!
- Squats are Extremely Functional
If you think of a squat, what exactly is it? Basically, it is the motion of sitting down and standing up without actually sitting (unless you’re doing box squats). A squat all the way down as far as you can go is how you would have to sit if we didn’t have our nice First World ergonomic chairs. If you watch a young child pick something up off the floor, they generally have great squat technique. By adding weight to this movement, we’re rebuilding the muscles that have atrophied over time from lack of use. We haven’t had to sit without chairs our whole lives, so it’s important to squat and make sure we don’t lose that function.
- Squats Build Muscle Fast
Squats are often called “The King of all Exercises” because they make you work HARD. Think of the feeling you have after a heavy set of five squats, you’re breathing hard, legs are probably shaking, and you might need to take a seat before your next set to let your body settle down. Now think about how much more weight you can do on a squat versus other lifts. Generally speaking people can at least double the amount they shoulder press in a squat. Take that larger load and how hard you have to work to move it, and you get muscle growth! Which brings us to the next point…
- Almost Every Muscle Works During a Squat
While your quads are the primary mover in a squat, almost every other muscle in your body has a job during a squat. Let’s take the typical back squat for example. The bar is placed on your traps (just below your neck), and we always tell you to pull your elbows back to maintain tension where the bar is sitting. Keeping tension in the upper back means those muscles are already working before you even start to descend in your squat. We also always remind you to keep your core tight (abs and lower back). Bracing this part of your body also means that those muscles are working throughout the entire movement, and as you become more adept at squatting you will be able to tell when you didn’t properly brace. The further you go down in your squat, the more your glutes have to stay active. Then together they and your hamstrings help extend your hips at the top of your squat.Now you won’t necessarily grow your biceps or triceps through squats, but you still want to maintain tension throughout your arms in a squat (especially when lifting heavier loads). The more tension you can maintain throughout your ENTIRE body, the heavier you can squat and the more muscle you build.
- Squats Keep You Mobile
Going back to our first point, squats are the natural way humans sit. Since we have chairs to sit in, we tend not to sit all the way down into a squat. It is imperative that you squat to maintain the mobility of sitting all the way down and being able to get yourself up. Think of someone you know who struggles with getting up from a low chair or sofa. They are struggling because their muscles and joints haven’t been worked often enough to keep them mobile at that low-seated position.
- Squats Make Your Ass Look Good
Let’s be 100% honest, most people go to the gym to look better. As much as we put emphasis on performance, getting results in the mirror is typically goal numero uno, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. As we mentioned in point 3, when you squat lower your glutes have to work harder. Glutes working=nicer ass. Thus, the more squats you do to below parallel=nicer ass. So, get your head up, knees out, and butt down!!!