Squats are an exercise that is functional in nature, meaning that it can help the body in daily activities. They are also a great way to workout the body.
Squats are not only for powerlifters or bodybuilders, but they are also great for anyone wanting to strengthen their body or improve their fitness levels with bodyweight squats or with equipment. Fitness experts actually recommend doing squats over any other exercise, if you only have time to perform one type of exercise.
The benefits of squats include working the calves, hamstrings and quadriceps. They also activate the back and glute muscles. It is a very natural movement. You will find that when you are bending down to pick something up from the floor, you are probably squatting. If you are doing the exercise, the difference is that you are likely paying more attention to your posture.
If you decide to perform squats with weights, you will gain an improvement in overall strength and muscle mass. It’s important to do them correctly with weights to avoid any potential injury. If you want to get to the next level we recommend getting the correct footwear.
19 Advantages Of Squats
1. Squats Build Muscle Mass
Many people consider the purpose of squats is to improve lower body strength. But they actually help with building muscle across the whole body. Specifically, barbell squats target the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, lower back, abs and glutes (the largest muscle on the human body). There are very few exercises that utilize such a high number of muscles simultaneously. By adding variations and getting deeper into the squat, rather than parallel, you can put more strain on these muscles.
When done properly, your body releases testosterone along with a natural human growth hormone. These help you build muscle and increase muscle mass throughout your body when combined with other targeted strength training exercises. More so, squats engage your whole body so you’re getting a whole-body workout with every squat you do.
2. Strong Legs
It’s obvious that sqausts are an effective exercise to develop muscle strength in the lower extremities. It’s a key excercis is any strength athletes routine to train the body’s largest muscles. With strong legs comes a whole host of other benefits. For instance, developing the quadriceps (Vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris) heelps to protect the knees from poor patella tracking and instability.
3. Squats Reduce The Risk Of Injury
In sport, the majority of injuries are caused by weak connective tissue, ligaments or stabilization muscles. Doing squats on a regular basis will help your legs become more limber and flexible. This is because improved flexibility will lower your risk of strains and tears.
Improving the muscles around these areas, such as the knees and hips is an easy way to greatly reduce the chance of injury when performing almost any activity. Squats help to strengthen all of these areas. Good squat shoes are worth it if you intend to lift heavy and want to prevent injuries.
4. Squats Improve Flexibility
Your flexibility and balance is improved when squatting regularly. This improvement takes place when you move your body through the full motion range required. With better flexibility also comes improved mobility. After regularly performing squats, you’ll notice that it’s easier to move around during your normal daily activities. At the very least, you should be falling over less if you are a squatter. Also by wearing a reliable workout belt in the gym, you greatly reduce the chances of injury during your heavy squats.
5. Jump Higher & Run Faster
Being a great jumper i.e. for basketball or long jump isn’t just about genetics. Having the ability to extend the hips with power is a key factor in jumping. Squats help to build this extension strength and agility.
According to research studies, people who perform squats regularly have improved sprinting times and record higher vertical jumps than those who don’t squat regularly.
Not only this, but jump squats will assist in the absorption of power and develop explosive strength. So when you land on your feet you are less prone to injury.
6. Squats Help With Stability and Mobility
As you get older, strong legs and balance become more important. This exercise is great for developing the stabilizer muscles (such as the hip flexors) as well as leg strength. This is why you may feel some muscular soreness in unexpected places after some heavy squatting. They also improve the central nervous system between the muscle and brain. Further stability is also one of the benefits of squat shoes.
7. Squatting Improves Bone Density & Joint Health
Any load bearing movement or strength training such as squatting will improve bone strength and density. Whenever you build your muscle mass your bones and joints are strengthened in turn so they can properly hold up your heavier frame. This is of importance as one fo the disadvantages of getting older is that bones can naturally become more brittle.
When done properly research shows that squats won’t cause knee damage and can actually strengthen them instead
Being a low impact exercise, squats are great for those who have a concern about their joints. As many joints across the body are utilized during a squatting movement, your joint strength and joint health will be improved, as well as developing stronger connective tissue. Hip belt squats are a great alternative for those with back issues.
8. Improve Your Circulation, Heart and Lungs
If you frequently experience tingling in your limbs or experience “pins and needles” in your legs or feet, it’s usually caused by poor circulation. Your circulatory system only works properly when you move your body frequently. Exercises like squats that work your whole body are great to improve your circulation because they engage your whole body in the movement and get your blood pumping easier and stronger.
Squats are not quite a cardio exercise but they tax the cardiac muscle (heart). This strengthens the heart and lungs and it is especially true when utilizing weights. The exercise also helps to improve circulation, reduce bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
9. Posture Support
Since you have to maintain proper form to do squats, you strengthen your back, chest, shoulders, and core. All of the muscles in these areas will enable you to stand and sit straight instead of slouching or slumping over. This can help with pains and soreness that come from bad posture. By improving your core strength by squatting, your posture will be improved too. More so, better posture can help you have a better balance. By standing up straight and avoiding slouching you can improve your balance and decrease your fall risk.
It’s important to also stretch when squatting to get the most postural benefits from it.
10. Improve Your Core Strength
Your core muscles are engaged during squats. This area is what connects your upper body with your lower half and is considered to be the most important muscle group in your body. You always use your core even if you don’t exercise regularly. When you lift, twist, bend or reach for something your core is what supports you so it’s important to keep it as strong as possible. Squats engage your entire core so they strengthen the muscle group without you having to do a single crunch.
Full body exercises are stimulators for the release of muscle building hormones such as human growth hormone and testosterone. Because squats involve a large number of muscle groups when performing the exercise, these hormones are released. So they help to build muscle all over the body, not just the legs.
The human body likes to grow as a whole. We’ve all seen the skinny guy doing bicep curls five days a week in the gym with not much to show for it. It is very difficult to force the biceps to grow without the rest of the body following. So the easiest way to gain muscle mass is to work the entire body e.g. with squats.
12. Mental Strength
Unracking the bar containing enough weight to crush a man (or woman) requires great willpower. Those who accept the challenge are the ones who develope a stronger mind, achieve their goals and don’t give up easily. Performing squats regularly with a good form helps to build this mental strength which can be used not only in the gym but throughout life. Also, by performing squats lifters learn how to muster up their physical strength efficiently and in the correct way which again can be used all over their life.
13. Squats Burn Fat
Believe it or not, squats are a better way to burn fat than many other forms of exercise. This is because when you do any kind of strength training (including squats) you actually continue to burn fat after you’re done exercising. This is because having stronger muscles and more muscle mass improves your metabolism so you burn fat more efficiently as your muscles recover from their work out. More so, squats help regulate your glucose levels and help prevent obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases as it burns that body fat.
As they help to build muscle, your body increases its energy expenditure and will require more calories. As long as you eat right, these calories will come from body fat and can expect to lose weight. So you can achieve any weight loss goals quicker. By adding free weights to your routine, you will burn calories quicker. Alternatively, daily squats in the morning are a great way to boost metabolism for the day.
14. Reduce Cellulite
If you have dimpled skin, you have cellulite. While this is unsightly, it can be combated. One of the leading causes of cellulite is poor circulation. Since squats can improve your circulation they can also help reduce and eliminate cellulite when done regularly.
Generally, exercise is a good way to enhance the body’s ability to flush away toxins and this is true for squat exercises. Furthermore, the squatting movement has been proven to improve the body’s digestion, small intestine efficiency and bowel movements.
This might be a bit of a surprise, but performing squats regularly can actually facilitate the removal of waste from your body. According to studies, the movement helps deliver nutrients to your organs, glands, and tissues while also helping move waster through your digestive system.
16. Daily Abilities
As well as the health benefits, you can expect improvements in your day to day life. Something as simple as getting up from crouching, seated position or carrying heavy objects will be easier. In sports, you can expect an improvement in performance.
17. Increased Libido In Men
As mentioned earlier, squats increase testosterone production in the body. For men, this can be a natural fix for lower libido. More so, squats help increase blood flow to your lower body including the genitalia. This increased blood flow paired with the increase in testosterone leads to a boost in your sex drive that you’ll definitely appreciate.
18. No Equipment Required
Squats are cheap. You don’t need anything to do them and you can do them bodyweight squats just about anywhere. All you need is room to bend down and back up to the starting position.
You can even do a few repetitions in a lift between floors.
When it comes to using weights, they are also cheap. Just a few kettlebells or dumbells are all that’s required to get started.
19. Squat Variations
Once you develop your squat strength, you might want to move onto a variation. There are so many of different types to choose from including:
- Overhead squats
- Pistol squats
- Plie squats
- Jump squats
- Goblet squats
It’s a matter of trying out these different variations to choose from. It’s a matter of trying them out to so what works best for your body. They can also be done with different equipment such as resistance bands, medicine balls or dummbells.
How to Perform Squats Properly
If you’re even a little fitness-minded you’ve at least heard about squats or have seen video demonstrations of squat variations. However, you may not know how to perform a proper squat with the correct form. Not using proper form won’t give you the positive benefits of the exercise and can even lead to injuries or permanent joint damage.
Before you start squatting, learn how to perform them properly:
- Get into the starting position by standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your toes should be pointing forward not out to the sides.
- Next, put your hands on your thighs and look up while lifting your chest.
- Keeping your weight on your heels, bend your knees and sit back (like you’re bending to sit in a chair).
- Slide your hands down your thighs while keeping your head and chest upright until your elbows get to your knees.
- Hold that position for about five seconds then return to your standing position making sure to push through your heels.
Ideally, you’ll want to repeat this 15 or so times in two or three sets. Doing this at least three times a week can really bring about positive changes. As you get stronger you can add weights to your squats by holding a barbell on your shoulders.
Final Thoughts On The Benefits Of Squats
As you can see, squats and squat variations can be done with weights or nothing else other than your own body weight.
Pick a style that suits you. Front squats work the anterior muscles of the body and back squats put more strain on the posterior muscles.
Without weights means that it’s the type of exercise that you can do no matter where you are for free. For example, if you’re on a business trip and have no time to do a full workout or there is no gym in your hotel you can easily do a few sets of squats in your hotel room when you wake up in the morning or after your business day ends.