There is no other exercise for the lower body that delivers more definitive results than squats. They are among the most basic movement patterns and is undoubtedly the most effective leg exercise for increasing muscle size and strength, while simultaneously burning fat.
Although squats are not ‘mandatory’ in terms of effectively sculpting your lower body, the benefits they offer certainly extend to different areas that fitness experts recommend including them in daily training routines as long as you are physically able to perform them. The results are definitely worth your time and effort, and here are some of the reasons why…
Increase in muscle size and strength
Squatting every day increases strength and power in different muscle groups of the lower body including the glutes, quads and hamstrings, which are the main stabilizers when you are in motion. Squats also boost hip extension power, which is important in increasing vertical leap. They also stimulate the production of anabolic hormones that strengthen the whole body.
There is just no other exercise in existence that will enable you to train and develop your lower body as effectively and efficiently as squats will. Because multiple muscles are activated, you can achieve progressive overload at a fast pace and this is the most important factor in terms of adding muscle size. This is particularly true if you are a beginner as it will allow you to add more weight every single week before reaching any form of strength plateau.
Get impressive definition in the butt and thighs
As aforementioned, squats target the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Squats deliver a basic movement that quickly builds lean muscle, which results in well-toned limbs. Moreover, it is a great fix for a flat butt. Bear in mind that your bottom is composed of muscles (the gluteals) and you need to add resistance to make them grow, pretty much the same way you would with any other muscle.
Improve mobility and flexibility
Full range of motion squats not only build different muscle groups in the lower body, they also improve mobility and flexibility by increasing the range of motion of your hips, knees, ankles, and even the lower back. This improvement will carry over to other types of exercises and day-to-day activities, thereby improving overall performance. In addition, squats are a safe and effective way to improve mobility without putting excessive stress on joints.
Strengthen and tone the core
Squatting everyday challenges the muscles of your core to work extra hard to stabilize the body and support the lower back throughout the whole range of motion. The transversus and rectus abdominis are engaged the whole time, resulting in a flatter and stronger stomach. The improvement in overall core strength will carry over to improved strength and enhanced performance on other compound exercises. It will protect your lower back from injury and stimulate growth in your abs and obliques.
Squats are typically considered a leg exercise, but they also engage many other muscle groups, including those in your abdominal area, upper and lower back. Note that whether you are doing weighted or body weight squats, you will be activating the trapezius and rhomboids to help in stabilizing the body throughout the movement. This will strengthen the muscles responsible for maintaining proper posture.
The top squat variations that can help deliver strength and power to your game in no time:
Front Squat. You can do this by holding the weight (barbell / dumbbell) in front of your shoulders, then squatting. It is very effective in strengthening the lower back and tends to be easier on the knees if you keep your butt out as you squat.
Back Squat. If you’re trying this for the first time, it is recommended to start off and practice without any weight. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can progress to using a barbell. This will give you an excellent mechanical advantage, making the back squat a good option for working your quadriceps, glutes, abs and lower back.
Lateral Squat. This involves a side-to-side squatting motion and is superb for improving hip mobility and dynamic flexibility of the inner thigh muscles (adductors). Stand with the feet about four feet apart and then sit to one side. Keep the weight on the heel and keep your knee over your toe.
Goblet Squat. This is an excellent exercise if you’re learning how to squat. It is a compound exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and shoulders. Just hold a weight (dumbbell or kettlebal) close to your chest as you squat. This should be performed with a sturdy base and sound fundamentals.
Split Squat. This is the best variation if you wish to improve balance and isolated leg strength. To perform it, assume a staggered stance with one foot in front and the other behind (on a bench or a step) then squat by flexing your knee and hip to lower your body.
Drop squat. This is good for teaching athletes how to land properly after a jump. It can also be an excellent cardiovascular workout if you perform a series of drop squats in quick succession. To do it, assume the squat position while simultaneously pushing your arms out in front of your body, then stand quickly and repeat the movement.
Hack squat. To do this, hold a barbell against the back of your thighs. Keep your head and back straight, then squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground and continue until the barbell touches the floor before standing again. It may be an awkward movement but it puts little stress on your lower back, while strengthening the quadriceps.
Single-leg Squat. This one is tough to learn, but is great for improving balance, side-to-side stability and training your legs how to produce force in an isolated position. See to it that your back and knees are in proper alignment. You may put a hand out and touch a wall for balance as you practice this variation.
Ultimately, the squat is a fundamental movement pattern, and you must include some variations of it in your daily exercise routine. You can start with body-weight squats, then progress to the other variations discussed above. Do them properly and you are guaranteed results that will put a smile on your face!