3 Reasons Why You've Got to Squat
The squat is a fundamental movement pattern that everyone should include some form of in their program, regardless of their goal. Here are three reasons why:
1. Healthy Hips, Knees and Ankles
Squatting through a full range of motion is one of the best ways to keep your joints healthy; deep squats require full flexion of the hips, knees and ankles. If you lack range of motion in any of these joints then you won’t be able to squat to full depth. Restrictions in the hips, knees or ankles can also lead to movement compensations elsewhere in your kinetic chain, which will eventually lead to issues.
Sitting down is a normal and unavoidable part of our everyday lives, and this can lead to the muscles and joints of our lower bodies tightening up. Stiff hips in particular can cause all sorts of problems, including lower back pain.
It’s important to keep our lower body joints and muscles moving smoothly and freely; squatting through a full range of motion, regularly, is a great way to do so. I recommend ‘hanging out’ in a deep squat position for a couple of minutes per day, in addition to any gym based squats you perform.
2. Lower Body Strength
When it comes to building strength there aren’t many exercises that can rival the squat. The strength, mobility and stability required to perform squats are why some label it as the number one strength training exercise.
The glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves are big muscles that produce a lot of force, and lower body strength provides the foundation upon which other physical qualities such as power can be built. Squats are the most efficient way to train these muscles as a coordinated whole; your lower body training should centre around the squat pattern, particularly if you are a beginner.
3. Squats Are Useful For Everyone
There are many different squat variations with each variation requiring differing degrees of strength, mobility and stability. All of these variations can be beneficial, the best variation for you will depend on your goal and starting point; you don’t have to load up a barbell and lift the maximum amount of weight you can handle to get the benefits.
For example, squats can be used by the 21 year old competitive athlete and the 85 year old who wants to be able to get up and down from a chair a little easier. The 85 year old might perform a bodyweight box squat with a box set at the same height (or just below) a regular chair. The 21 year old competitive athlete might use a barbell overhead squat to work on their whole body strength and stability.
Squats help develop strength, power, mobility and stability. They can be used for many different reasons and by pretty much everyone. Squats can be incorporated into warm ups or be the main focus of a training session depending on the training goal. Find the squat variation that matches you and your goal and enjoy the benefits they bring!