The benefits of squatting
We did it with a natural sense of ease as children. As we learned to walk and toddle along, we had to use the squatting motion in order to enable our core, somewhat like a centrifugal force, to pick ourselves up off the ground and carry on walking. Exercise trends of recent times seem to encourage a move towards this most natural motion as a way for us to move and get our core strength back into balance. But is there any truth around the squats buzz or is this just another flash in the pan exercise trend that will come and go, leaving us no worse for wear?
Squatting through the ages
Squatting in itself is an activity that we all do in our normal everyday set of motions, as we lower ourselves into chairs or even bend to adjust a shoe strap. However the more deliberate kind done through exercising has been enjoying some resurgence in interest recently.
Before we determine whether or not a squat is as beneficial as it appears, let’s first understand the anatomy of a basic squat.
What are the requirements?
The body parts required:
Benefits of doing squats:
Try the squat challenge!
Targeting large muscle groups
One of the biggest and most effective benefits of doing squats is that it targets large muscle groups in your body. Some of the muscle groups that benefit from squats are the following:
- The quads or the quadriceps
- The gluteus maximus
- The adductor magnus
- Erector spinal muscles
If you’ve always felt as if your butt and abs could benefit from some toning and shaping up, you may want to try some squats. There are very few exercises that work as many muscles in one range of motion as squats do in a simple movement.
Helps with your balance and gait
Given that squats primarily target your largest muscle groups found in legs along with core muscles, you will find that your balance and overall gait is improved. These muscle groups are also the most important when it comes to a range of motion associated with walking, running, jumping and bending. So by squatting you immediately help those muscles do those motions more easily.
Reduces your risk of injury
When you do squats you end up strengthening your leg muscles (glutes, hamstrings and quads). All of which are stabilizing muscles in the leg. Once these muscles are stronger and more developed you have a greater sense of ease as you do any other motion that requires leg movement and thereby reduce your risk of injuries.
Boosts your activity and performance in other sports
Many sporting activities, like swimming, running and a number of athletics require heavy reliance on legs, hamstrings and core muscles. When you exercise these muscles by doing squats you get them in a healthy state and a prime position to be able to function in other sports as well.
Builds muscle and helps you to lose weight
By squatting you’re exercising one of the largest muscle groups in your body and helping to build and strengthen those muscles. The more muscle that you gain, the more your metabolic rate builds up and helps burn fat, which pretty much equals a faster weight loss rate!
Suitable for all ages
You may be thinking of squats as the property of people that are hot, young, hip and upbeat. Wrong! Even older people can do squats and benefit from them. In fact as you build up to being older, squats do a world of good in stabilizing your muscles and your core, all of which do a world of good for balance.
Care and considerations when doing squats
Don't overdo it
Yes the exercise is fun and healthy to do for a more toned and balanced body, however don’t do too many of them and then find yourself incapacitated, unable to go to work or do normal activities the day after.
Develop a method
- Do squats in deliberate sets and rest in between
- Like with any exercise, begin with a few sets first, focus on getting the technique right and then work on adding weights into the equation.
Technique – Don’t do it wrong
- Probably one of the biggest things to consider when it comes to doing squats is to ensure that you are not doing it wrong.
- If you’re doing it without weights, ensure that you dip low enough when you do a squat so that you don’t put any added pressure on your knees.
If you’re doing it with weights
- If you are doing it with weights you need to be cautious not to take on more than you can handle. If you do stack on more than you can handle you can bet that there will be back injuries and stretched and torn ligaments to deal with later.
- Try not to rock on your knees as you do squats as it can be very detrimental to the cartilage and balance to your knees.
- Take care of your shoulders; ensure that you use as much padding as possible in order to prevent injuries.