Can You Squat Every Day? Pros and Cons Evaluated

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.

Improve Posture

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!

Wall Sit Benefits

If you’re a serious gym goer, chances are you have been grasping at straws to find the perfect exercise that will enhance the muscles within your thighs. Most leg day exercises are known to give you increased strength in the legs but typically fall short of a full leg workout that gives you the results you want. That’s where the benefits of wall sit exercises come in. A wall sit exercise is not hard to execute at all, which you will find to be the first notable benefit, aside from the fact that you can do them anywhere, whether you are at home, a hotel room, or wherever your life takes you, all you need is a wall and your body weight, as wall sits are a body weight bearing exercise. All you have to do is plant those feet on the ground, two feet from the wall, shoulder-width apart, with your knees in line with your ankles, slowly slide down and hold for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on your abilities and whether or not you’re a beginner, and then raise yourself back up, and stand up from there, and your exercise is complete.

The benefits of wall sits are never ending. The biggest benefit from wall sits (aside from being easy to perform) is that they increase your isometric strength. What exactly is isometric strength? Well, isometric exercises or any type of isometric training means that the exercise you’re doing does not change your muscle length and joint angle at the point of contraction. This means, that if you have any problems with a particular joint at any given angle when lifting or moving, Isometrics allows you to isolate that joint, further improving your condition. Further according to makingmuscle.com, the body is also able to use isometrics to activate all of its available motor units, which is actually very hard to achieve without isometrics or any other training methods. Isometric training is also a form of not only isolation but a form of using your bodyweight for strength and endurance enhancement that allows you to train with your body against a sitting still object. Any form of isometric training can increasingly improve the health of your heart because this exercise requires your resting heart rate to stay a normal pace. Wall sits can, in turn, allow your heart to not work as hard and it is said that “a heart that does not work as hard all of the time, can stay healthier for longer.”

Because wall sits allow you to focus on your muscles as a whole, you can see how it can not only improve your leg strength but further improve your stamina by increasing leg strength. This allows you to execute other exercises more efficiently and easily that you wouldn’t normally be able to perform as easily from just a regular squat or lunge.

Wall sits are all said to increase your mind’s ability to focus. Because wall sits inherit a form of martial arts with a side of yoga principles, when performing a wall sit properly, it requires an extreme level of focus and awareness of what you are doing. With that type of focus and concentration, wall sits can easily allow your body to be more flexible, in the sense that your posture improves and gets used to the wall sit movement. This can make you feel a little more light and airy once you have included the wall sit into your regimen more frequently.

Now that we have established that wall sits make you stronger, increase flexibility and can further improve focus and concentration, it will come to no surprise that another added benefit that comes from performing wall sits is that you can improve your balance. Because you have to lean up against a wall with no support at all and perform the exercise on your own, the level of focus and concentration aiding you in balancing can improve your body’s ability to balance as a whole as your go through daily life.

While we have established that wall sits can do wonders for your thoughts, they are also known to strengthen and tone your calves and abs. This exercise focuses on transferring your body weight to your calves and thighs. That means that all of your weight is transferred to those areas, and you must use your calves and thighs to raise yourself back up in an upward position, further toning those thighs, and because this workout calls for those abdominal muscles to be held in place with force while performing this exercise, with regular breathing and no slouching, your abdominal strength will improve tremendously.

Wall sits are also versatile and can allow you multitask. You can change up your routine by adding weights or even change the way that you perform a wall sit in general to amp up your exercise, whether you choose to use one leg or the other at a time to improve weakness imbalances, you will certainly be able to get the most of your wall sit exercises through versatility alone. As far as multitasking is concerned, with a wall sit you can easily “watch tv, listen to music or even do curls with a dumbbell as you sit up against a wall”. Getting creative to get the most of your wall sit exercise while decreasing your stress through multitasking activities that you find enjoyable can tack on the added benefit of stress relief.

Wall sits, of course, aren’t exactly cardio, but any exercise that increases the muscles to use energy can in fact burn calories, so when it comes to weight loss goals, although you won’t burn as many calories as you would through other exercises, wall sits still allow the burning of some calories while the focus remains to strengthen and tone.

Wall sits definitely allow the leg day boost you need by really toning the thighs, glutes, hamstrings, abs, lower back and calves while improving your focus and self-awareness as you perform your hold. In order to reap all the rewards from the benefits we mentioned, the one thing you must always make sure of is that your form is pristine and your efforts consistent. Starting your hold for 30 seconds and slowly increasing over time will definitely help you achieve your leg day goals.

The Perfect Roman Chair Workout

The roman chair (as exotic as it sounds) is also known as a hyperextension bench, among many other names. It is one of the most sought after home equipment exercise machines that offers the convenience and comfort to effectively exercise almost every part of your body, straight from your home. The roman chair can also be found in any gym or health club, and with the help of a personal trainer, you can further boost your use and amp up your routine for optimum results when it comes to strengthening your core. Believe it or not, you can even find this fine piece of equipment in most physical therapist offices as an accepted method of treatment to rid clients of back pain, and it even promises to improve posture. If used properly for fitness goals, the roman chair (also adjustable to meet your fitness needs) can give you the body you’ve always wanted. The proper use of a roman chair can easily tighten your stomach for rock hard, sexy abs and tone your glutes.

The roman chair boasts two comfortable and convenient pads that further support the hips and back and allows the legs to comfortably hook onto the chair for different variations of exercises and crunches. The use of the roman chair can effectively target abdominal muscles, glutes and hamstrings, and your back area. Today’s gym goer is most focused on finding routines and equipment that can target larger, and multiple areas at one time, rather than work one part of the body at one time. The roman chair allows for this type of flexibility in your routine. Since it was first invented, there have been several upgrades and models over the years that you can choose from based off of your personal preference and goals, leaving endless options for the ultimate workout.

Roman chair trunk extensions are a great way to really work your glutes in isolation. Think of the “trunk extensions,” as being a crunch but for your buttocks. As you lock your legs, pushing against ankle pads, you extend yourself over the bench in a downward motion, and as you bring yourself back up, you squeeze your glutes to assist in bringing your body back to an upright position, for the ultimate glute workout. Lastly, the glute/ham developer is very similar to the trunk extension exercise, rather than go all the way down, you slightly flex and crunch your glutes, further working your lower body including your back, and especially those glutes and hamstrings. Furthermore, you may be wondering why this exercise is done through the use of the roman chair would be better than the GHD machine (Glute Ham Developer machine). You should know that as mentioned before when the roman chair first released, it was so wildly popular that many different models and variations came out, the GHD machine being one of them. This machine is essentially the same thing as a roman chair, however, it does not offer the capabilities that a roman chair does. The original roman chair can be adjusted to look like an entirely different machine that can perform different functions, as opposed to the GHD machine that can only modify slightly to refine precision in your performance when it comes to exclusively glute and hamstring exercise performance.    

As you probably already know by now, strengthening your core is a sure fire way to improve not only your posture and quality of life, but it can certainly benefit your regular workout routines by enhancing your ability to perform. This workout routine includes the “roman chair crunches, roman chair twists and the roman chair hanging leg raises.” By adjusting the roman chair, you can simply hook your legs and position your body into the ultimate crunch position for an intense ab workout. Secondly, you can adjust the chair again, to rest your hips on the larger pad, further hooking your legs in the same position, but more upright where you are facing the ceiling to perform a crunch that ends in a twist to really target your abs and core muscles. Lastly, if you add a hanging bar to your routine, although not a part of the roman chair, a hanging leg raise can top off your “killer ab workout” for the ultimate ab and core strength routine.

Lastly, the roman chair can also allow you to really focus on your lower back, further according to the site. They have designed a third workout routine for the lower back using the roman chair. This workout routine includes the following exercises: “hyperextensions, twisting roman chair hyperextensions, and the kettlebell lift.” Roman chair hyperextensions allow you to lie on the chair in a face downward position, with your legs fully extended, and hips resting on the pad. The idea is to simply perform a “plank” by making sure that you extend your body so that your torso is in line with your legs. You then cross your arms across your chest, lower your upper body and further focus on using your lower back to bring your body back up and in line with your legs. The roman chair twist hyperextension exercise calls for the same position and movement, the only difference is, instead of crossing your arm, you place your hands behind your ears, and as you rise, you twist to one side, repeat, rise and twist to the other side, while again, focusing on your lower back muscles to do the movements. With the roman chair kettlebell lift, you must readjust your chair so that you are in more of a slanted upright position, lock your legs in place, cross your arms again, across your chest, bend over, grab on to the kettlebell, using your lower back to direct your movements, the site further instructs that you move the kettlebell up and down and together, the roman chair has given you a fabulous lower back workout.

With these workouts and different variations, it is easy to see how the roman chair can give you a complete workout. Whether you are targeting your back, glutes and hamstrings or your abs and core, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the roman chair. Also, the padding and functions that the roman chair offers further reduces injuries, making an ideal fit for those who take extra precautions as well.

How and Why to do Ankle Weight Exercises

There are several ways you can enhance your workout routine. One way, specifically, is to utilize weights for better results in an already effective workout routine. When we first start a workout routine, we find it difficult at first, but it becomes easier over time as our bodies adjust and muscle is built, all the while weight is being lost. Once this occurs, you may find yourself searching for ways to make your workout “difficult” again, for further gains. One avenue often taken is to add the use of ankle weights. If you frequent fitness stores, you have probably seen them. These weights can easily be attached to your ankles to enhance light exercises like walking and leg lifts. These weights can further help tone and strengthen your legs and trunk even more so than without them. They also offer some flexibility in the sense that you can begin with three-pound ankle weights and slowly work your way up to 10 pounds or more. As far as versatility is concerned, ankle weights don’t disappoint in that area either. You can use them on land, or in water, from one exercise to the next.

There are several exercises where the use of ankle weights would definitely benefit you. As mentioned, walking is one of them. If you work a job in retail or any job that requires a lot of walking or moving around, ankle weights can help you get in a good workout without ever having to hit a gym or commit to a routine. If you walk regularly, for a good cardio exercise, attaching these weights to your ankles can help you tone as you go, further building muscle. Even wearing them around the house as you clean can offer results if you are looking for a simple way to tone without committing to anything.

If you are committed to regular routines, ankle weights can definitely enhance your leg lifts. This is probably an exercise that you do all of the time, but perhaps it has gotten a lot easier for you. You may find yourself, believe it or not, wishing that you felt the “burn” just as much as you did when you first started. This is because your legs have built the muscle and strength needed to effectively execute the exercise when it becomes easy for you to do that, it is because you have hit a plateau. When an exercise becomes easy, you aren’t necessarily building or toning anything at this point, instead, you are just maintaining what you have already built. To take it a step further, adding weights can bring you back to where you were from the beginning, where you will find that you will be feeling the “burn” yet again, and will find that you are once more, satisfied with your leg lifts.

Another exercise where applying ankle weights is helpful, is the knee or leg extensions. This exercise alone naturally works your femoris muscle and your quadriceps. By sitting in a chair or on a bench, raising each leg, one at a time while kept straight, or raising each leg until the leg is straight at the knee, you can further benefit from the use of ankle weights.

To enhance your core muscles and buttocks for a more toned and lifted effect, ankle weights can enhance your kick back exercise and your hip extension exercise. The kick back exercise is another common exercise that you have probably done before. While all fours are on the ground, firmly planted, lifting one leg at a time behind your head until it is extended straight, bringing it back down to the ground, without your knee ever touching the ground, is another way ankle weights can help. Over time, this exercise can become easier, and the use of ankle weights will help you experience more gains, as opposed to just maintaining what you have already built.

Squat jumps can also be enhanced with the use of ankle weights. By applying these weights you can further tone and lift your trunk as you perform a regular squat and jump up into the air. Repeating this exercise ten times in two repetitions should give you the best results.     

The bicycle kick is another exercise that can reap added benefit from the use of ankle weights. Naturally, this exercise too can tone your legs and trunk, but a little-added weight can help you build the muscle needed for best results. With the use of a workout mat, all you need to accomplish a weighted bicycle kick is to lay on your back, raise your legs, and start peddling like you would on a bicycle, except in midair. This workout can also help strengthen your abs, core and lower back muscles.

Becoming increasingly more popular is the use of ankle weights for water aerobics or water workouts. If you are an avid swimmer, you will find that adding ankle weights regularly, will allow you swim more fluidly through water, at quicker and more efficient speeds, for longer periods of time, beating out your competition. This can further make you one lean, mean, swimming machine. 

Aside from these exercises, the use of ankle weights can benefit you in other ways. Not only can they increase your endurance through having to use more force to pull off an exercise, and not only can it tone your legs and trunk as we have already discussed, but the use of ankle weights can encourage your body to burn more calories as well. When you have to use more force to complete an exercise, it clearly requires more energy, and the more energy your body needs or uses, the more calories you will burn. In fact, using ankle weights has been proven to make you lose weight more quickly over a shorter period of time. As you can see, there really is no “downside” to the added use of ankle weights or any attachable weight for that matter. There are only rewards upon rewards that can and will be received if you add them to your life and your fitness routine.

Stall Bar Exercises and Benefits

Stall Bar Exercises

Stall bars, also known as the Swedish bars, have become more popular over the years by workout enthusiasts. Gymnastics strength training in itself is becoming increasingly more popular over the years, and that is exactly where the Swedish bars get their origins. They were invented in the 19th century by a Swedish teacher who was chronically suffering from arthritis. He later invented the wall bars in an effort to relieve himself of his struggles, only to learn that his efforts were effective. Later, it was found that the Swedish bars were a great resource for gymnasts when it came to conditioning, building muscle, developing flexibility and maintaining a sense of mobility. Gymnasts who train using the stall bars have been able to drastically increase their competitive scores and their agility when it comes to performance (3). The use of these bars have even been said to be used for rehabilitation efforts in a physical therapy setting, much like it was originally intended. They also found use of the stall bars for pre-rehabilitation efforts worked in the prevention of injuries and improvement of alignment within the body, while correcting posture and balance (1).

The idea behind the use of stall bars is that you can simultaneously use your bodyweight to train your body into building muscle, maintaining mobility and increasing flexibility. The stall bar is made of sturdy wood and is built to withstand the weight of people without failing. Like a ladder, securely attached to a wall, you can successfully perform leg raises, chin ups, and for a more difficult exercise, sideways hand stands. 

There are many benefits to the use of stall bars, but in order to be rewarded those benefits, you must be disciplined, committed and determined. Stall bars are difficult to use, so the beginning will certainly be challenging because the progression will be difficult to perform. Finding the exercises that are right for you based off of your fitness goals are important. Depending on your goals, the use of stall bars can definitely build strength, muscle and cause you to burn fat and lose weight, however, one downside is that the use of stall bars does not allow added weight progression as you advance through your routine. Sure, you could add wrist and ankle weights if you’d like, but that will only get you so far. If you are looking for body building type muscle, any type of gymnastics exercise, stall bars or no stall bars, chances are, you won’t get those results simply from this type of workout. As mentioned, that’s partly because in order to get bigger you need to increase weights, slowly over time, to build the desired amount of muscle. But, if you are looking for a relaxing way to keep yourself flexible, mobile and maintain your current strength, then the stall bar routine can benefit you. The strength and mobility gained from the use of stall bars can make other workouts more effective and efficient, as well.

The biggest benefit you can receive from the use of stall bars is the versatility that the exercise allows. There is more than one exercise that can be performed, and there are many variations available for each exercise for the ultimate and complete workout that you can make harder over time. The only downside, again, is that eventually you can plateau, and eventually you will reach a point of maintenance as opposed to gains. However, the most beneficial exercise notably is the hanging leg lift. If done properly, the stall bar prevents shoulders from rolling backwards, for a more effective core and trunk workout. Other exercises like the side lever pull can even increase pike flexibility. There are other supportive workouts like back support exercises and front support exercises; both allow you to isolate your front from your back to focus more on back strength or frontal strength. Being able to isolate the front from the back can allow a sense of symmetry. If you feel as though your back is pretty strong, but your abs and front are lacking, the bar strength can bring the other side up to speed for optimum core strength. (4)

As far as physical therapy is concerned, the use of stall bars has been used, as mentioned, for relieving arthritis and even symptoms of scoliosis. Various hanging exercises have been proven to be beneficial for those who have experienced various types of ailments and pain. As you may or may not know, since most exercises performed on the stall bar focus on core strength and hamstring flexibility, improving those muscles and flexibility can and will improve posture and pain by further developing the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support your body daily (4).

If you think you have what it takes to be disciplined enough to take on the challenge of training with a stall bar, then chances are, you are about to embark on a journey for a better body that will lead to more effective workouts with other machines and routines. The use of a stall bar is a great way to warm up and get your body moving and perfectly aligned to condition it for your workout regimen. Although, it’s not a good source for bodybuilding, it is a great resource to improve your athletic performance elsewhere, while improving your physical wellbeing, alignment and flexibility. The use of a stall bar can further prevent physical injury that you would otherwise be subject to without the use of the bar, when participating in other fitness routines. If your goals are simply for a more conditioned body and a core strength that you can’t get from any machine or crunch, than the use of a stall bar is definitely for you. Or, if you suffer from arthritic conditions, back pain, or other physical ailments that hold you back from being able to complete or even endure regular fitness workouts, the stall bar and its exercises can certainly offer the relief you need to be able to keep up with the demands of physical workouts, painlessly and effectively.   

Sources:

1. http://www.vahvafitness.com/how-to-use-stall-bars/

2. https://ashotofadrenaline.net/pros-and-cons-of-calisthenics/

3. http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/44_06_Stallbars.pdf

4. https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/home-workout-equipment-introduction-stall-bars/