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The Squat, Build More Muscle Mass
Build more mass with the squat
If there is one exercise that does the most towards improving your physical fitness I would have to say it is the squat.
This is a major muscle building exercise and valuble in your fitness program, the primary muscle worked is the Quadriceps with the glutes and hips as secondary muscles.
This exercise works the largest muscle groups of the body and forces an increase in testosterone production, which strenghtens and effects the entire body. It is a compound movement, and this surge in testosterone assists the rest of your body to grow.
No exercise has more varities then this one, I am keeping to the basics for now. You have the body weight squat to improve endurance, the jump squat to develop power and explosive speed, and the weighted squat to build size and strength.
Muscles Worked During The Squat
The Muscles worked
The squat is designed to work the quadriceps which is the four muscle group in the front of you upper leg, the secondary muscles involved are the glutes with the hamstrings and calfs as stabilizer muscles.
The squat hits the four muscles of the quadriceps plus the gluts so it is considered a compound movement because it hits more then one muscle.
This exercise can use heavy weight and put much force on the muscles and tendons, I suggest that you stretch the legs muscles before and after the workout as well as warming up the legs for 15 minutes or longer, Do not just start your squat routine if you plan to have a long future lifting weights.
Always ensure that you use proper form, stretch and warm up your knees to prevent injury. The squat is an excellent exercise for strength and growth, it can cause serious injury if done improperly.
There are at least thirteen variations of this exercise so as you advance you have many tools to keep from adapting, there are a few I want to mention because of their advantages and drawbacks.
Body Weight Squat
Body Weight Squat
Shown in the picture is the body weight squat, the starting position is the same for all three. The midpoint is also the same, notice the thighs stay parallel to the floor. Do not go beyond this or your putting your knees at risk for injury. Stand straight, spread your feet slightly wider then shoulder width with your toes pointed forward or slightly outward. In a controlled movement, do not bounce, squat down to the midpoint. Do not curve your back, face forward and don't move your head. Pushing your feet into the floor, return to the starting position.
For the jump squat, push yourself upward with enough force to leave the ground. We are not used to doing it in repetition or weighted so it will take practice to develop muscle memory and balance. I would suggest to the novice to start with body weight squats and move up from there, when you start with weights I also recommend a spotter.
Smith Machine Squat
Smith Machine Squat
The smith machine can be used and is safer, the weight slides on rails and you can lock it in if you get stuck. This is the safest way to do a squat standing upright, and there are safety stops you can set. Since the weight moves on a predetermined path, if you don't place your feet properly you can be pushed off balance putting you at risk for injury.
Upright Hack Squat
The Hack Squat
The hack squat can be done in a leaned back or sitting position, either way your back is supported and balance is taking out of it. You are able to work at a heavier weights to force more growth and your stabilizer muscle involvement is minimized. Your glutes are a secondary muscle for most leg exercises and are worked the most in the seated hack squat position because you can safely get a deeper stretch with the weight.
The Leg Extension
Then there is the leg extension, this is not a squat but it is worth mentioning. This isolates the quadriceps and should be included in your leg workouts, it should be performed last. I will push myself with this one and do drop sets till my legs are rubber.
This exercise is not a squat, however it produces good growth and cuts in the quadriceps when used with the squat. I always finish my workout with this, on some days I go heavy with it and other days I go lighter for cuts. I use it as a finisher, because it gives me a good pump after the squats and is safe to go until failure with because it is performed on a seated cable machine.
Do You Work Your legs?
Rest For Growth
You need to rest your legs for growth, I would not work your legs more then twice a week. This gives them 2 or more days between exercises to rest and grow.
You also want to get a good 6 to 8 hours sleep every night because that is when your body grows and the muscles repair themselves.
This exercise should be performed with a safety belt for your back, follow the directions on the safe use of a belt. Doing the squat with free weights can be dangerous, always get and use a spotter during this exercise. That is why I prefer the hack or smith machine squat, is is safer however it produces slightly less results then the free weights because stabilizer muscles are used less.