How and Why to Squat
As the king of all exercises, the squat is a complex full-body compound movement. It works your entire body throughout the exercise; your legs when you move the weight, abs and lower back help stabilize your trunk and your upper-back, shoulders and arms balancing the bar.
Although effective, the exercise can also prove hazardous. It is essential to keep a proper form throughout for optimized results and to avoid injuries and possible inflammation in joints and muscles.
This is your go-to guide on how to maintain proper squat technique and how the exercise is beneficial for your fitness goals.
Most people who are just starting out in fitness tend to skip squats, as it’s a difficult exercise to perform. But fact is, once you’ve mastered the technique, by incorporating squats in your training program you will see significant improvements in your overall physique.
Strength is the ability to move your body against an external resistance.
Squats works your whole body. Your legs, torso and upper-body all work at the same time to balance the bar and to perform the exercise. By stimulating large muscle groups, your body releases hormones such as, testosterone, which is essential for overall muscle build.
Your muscles burn energy (fat) to lift heavy weights. Squats burn more energy than any other exercise, as they work more muscles with heavier weights. Furthermore, squat is proven to increase your metabolism for up to 12 hours post workout. Meaning, due to the intensity of the training, your body will burn calories for up to 12 hours after your workout is completed – that’s pretty sweet!
How To Squat
When performing squats, always think safety first! Find a squat rack for stability and support, DO NOT go heavier than you’re comfortable with and, if possible, train with a partner who can offer assistance. If you’re training alone, find a rack with horizontal safety pins, which can catch the bar if you fail to raise it.
- Setup: Face the bar. Grab it tight with a shoulder-width grip. Dip under the bar and rest it on your upper-back. Keep your chest raised.
- Unrack: Move your feet under the bar, approximately 1 meter apart and slowly straighten your legs. Take one step backwards and lock your hips and knees.
- Squat: Take a big breath, hold it in and slowly squat down by pushing your knees out and hips back. Keep your back neutral throughout. Squat down until your hips are below your knees.
- Squat Up: Breath out and squat back up. Keep your knees out and chest up and lock your hips and knees at the top.
- Finish: Take a step forward and place bar back on rack.
Number of repetitions and sets will depend on each individual and how experienced they are. A typical squat training for myself, would look something like this:
I dedicate 2.5 sets solely for warm up and perfect my form before I move onto heavier weights. I would highly recommend doing the same.
Remember to keep the weight in line with your individual experience – You don’t train to Prove, you train to Improve!
Variations of Squat Exercise
If you don’t have a gym membership or a squat rack in your garage, there are other variations you can perform in the comfort of your own home.
Full-Body Jump Squats
Perform the squat exercise as described above, but without any additional weight on your back – this workout is solely based on your own body weight.
For added intensity, this exercise incorporates a small jump during the squat-up movement, which also will have bigger impact on your calves.
Tip: For extra weight and concentration, purchase a weighted vest to wear while performing the workout.
Bulgarian Split Squat
One of our favorite exercises to incorporate in a home-workout. Read more on Bulgarian Split Squat technique and form in this article.
Keep Training! 🙂