Squats are without a doubt the most important basic movement pattern for strength training exercises. Almost every strength training in the whole body or the lower part of the body will involve at least some variation or change of a basic squat. This prominent place is not arbitrary; rather, there are numerous and significant benefits of squats that deserve their designation as an important strength exercise.
If you spent a lot of time in a gym or playing sports when you were growing up, you are probably familiar with squats and how to perform one properly. But are you aware of all the benefits of squats? Below, we reintroduce you to one of the most effective exercises – the humble squat – and describe the benefits of squats and why it is important to appreciate and regularly perform this sculptural move in the lower body.
Benefits of squats
Squats strengthen your legs
There are many benefits to squats, and they strengthen a lot of muscles, but they are primarily aimed at the legs. Squats strengthen your gluteal muscles (gluteal muscles), which are essential for strength, core stability and efficient propulsion when you run, walk, jump and jump. Squats also strengthen the quads, a group of four muscles on the front of your thigh that control the knee extension. On the back of the legs, squads also strengthen the hamstrings and calves, both of which are instrumental in walking, running and jumping.
2. Squats improve core strength
While squats can primarily work on your legs, they also require core activation, working on your glutes, hips, abdominal muscles, slopes and back stretchers. In fact, studies examining the muscle activation of various exercises showed that squats actually require more involvement than planks. Having a strong core not only helps movement efficiency, but also helps protect against damage to the lower back and hips.
Squats Increase your vertical jump
If you play sports like basketball, volleyball or tennis, you will appreciate the boost your jumping game gets from consistent squat training. The strength you will develop in your glutes, calves and buttocks from squats will help drive a more explosive, impressive jumping ability.
Squats Improve your posture
The core-strengthening work – especially along the erector spinae of the spine – from squats helps to improve posture. Poor posture is associated with back pain, neck pain, sleep disturbances and even slower metabolism.
5. Squats can make you a better runner
Squats improve the strength and power of your legs, which can be translated into a more economical running step and faster speeds. They can also help correct muscle imbalances created by long-distance running by requiring more glute and quad activation.
Squats can improve bone density
Straining your bones during squats can signal your body to increase the mineralization of your bones. Doing this also turns you on to key hormones that build bone instead of breaking it down. Bone density is especially important as we get older, so it’s definitely worth focusing on squats to delay bone loss.
7. Squats Improves mobility
Squats can increase the mobility and flexibility of your ankles, hips and knees, which can help you feel more supple and can protect against the risk of injury. Squats can also improve your balance, especially when you are loading on one side of the squat.
8. Squats burn calories
Like any exercise, performing squats – especially weighted squats – burns calories, but more importantly, building muscle mass through exercises like squats increases your overall metabolism. This means that spending time in the gym getting your squats in will help you burn more calories the rest of the day (and night!).
9. Squats can improve cardiovascular fitness
When performed quickly or in a circuit, squats can improve cardiovascular fitness and heart health. As a whole body movement, squats recruit almost all major muscles in the body, especially when an external load is used. Therefore, a set of squats will cause your heart to pump and your lungs to expand.
Squats can be performed anywhere
While you may not be able to do heavy front-loaded squats at home without a squat stand, basic squats (along with many modifications) can be performed anywhere with just your body weight or minimal equipment. Whether you are traveling and only have a small hotel room or want to work out without a gym at home, squats are a practical, powerful workout feature for cramped spaces, limited time and minimal equipment training.
11. Squats are versatile
There are so many ways to change and alter squats to constantly challenge your body and change your muscle needs. From sumo squats and back squats to split squats and single leg squats, you can find a different squat variant for each day of the week. Varying your squat routine keeps your muscles challenged and prevents boredom.
How to perform a squat
Here are the steps to perform a basic bodyweight squat:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing forward, your core engaged, and your chest up and proud.
- Inhale, bend your knees and push your hips back as if you are reaching your buttocks back to sit in a chair and keep your back straight and your chest up. Your arms can appear in front of your body to act as a counterweight.
- Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are bent to 90 degrees.
- Exhale, push through your heels to return to the starting position.