In some ways this article is definitely another piece offering a fitness opinion, however the end goal is not to tell you that squats are the missing element in your workout, or the key to getting that killer body, but instead to once again ask you to consider adding them to your workout repertoire.
Here are 6 reasons you may want to stop neglecting squats in your workout routine:
1. Squats Are A True Whole Body Workout
At a glance squats may seem like they only work your legs and butt, but the truth is, when performed properly squats can impact your entire body. Due to their intensity, squats create an anabolic environment in your body which promotes the building of muscle everywhere. A properly performed set of squats triggers the release of testosterone and HGH, both of which are key for muscle growth. (1) This release will also impact muscle growth in other areas of your body that you exercise in conjunction with your legs.
2. Squats Aren’t Inherently Bad For Your Back
It’s one of the most commonly thrown around myths surrounding squats, yet most of the reasoning behind the claim does not apply to a squat that is performed properly. The important goal in all squats performed is to keep a neutral spine, avoiding hyperextension – where the bulk of the myth’s arguments are based. (2) As with every workout manoeuvre, form is key, and it’s best to take things slow and not be afraid to ask a professional questions when you are unsure. As a good starting point, here is a step-by-step guide that personal trainer Darin Steen put together for Mercola.com.
3. Squats Improve Your Flexibility
According to mensfitness.com, deep squatting helps to increase range of motion in the entire hip complex. The benefits of this are reduced back pain and an easier time getting around daily and engaging in sports. (3) Flexibility is something that I particularly have always struggled with, finding that a number of strength training exercises can often leave me tense. The combination of proper stretching, yoga techniques, and properly performed squats has helped me in moving past this issue.
A well-performed set of squats improves the pumping and flow of bodily fluids, helping to flush out waste and deliver nutrition to all tissues of the body. (1) This goes along with the entire movement that we may just be pooping the wrong way, or as Cornell University professor Alexander Kira put it, the sit-down toilet is “the most ill-suited fixture ever designed.” The motion involved in a squat exercise helps to engage the movement of feces in your colon, possibly making things a little bit easier when we do sit and release.
This one is pretty self-explanatory and obvious, but it’s worth pointing out since a non-weighted squat can literally be performed anywhere and without any equipment. This makes it the zero-excuse exercise for those days where you just can’t seem to make it to the gym. If you can’t afford a gym membership altogether, squats are just one of a number of exercises you can still perform regularly, something that Joe wrote about in his article Why I Stopped Lifting Weights At The Gym & Do This Instead.
According to livestrong.com, as your leg muscles become more powerful, so do the joints within your lower body. Squats toughen and strengthen all facets of your knees and ankles, including their supporting ligaments and tendons.