The Squat is one of the most popular exercises in the world. It has been around for centuries, with many cultures incorporating it into their lifestyle. Squats are a great way to strengthen your lower body, improve your core strength, and burn fat. They can also help you reduce your chances of sustaining injuries and improve your posture. This article will look at all the science-backed benefits of squats you should know about.
What is a Squat?
A squat is a strength training exercise in which you lower your body down until your hips are below your knees. It's a compound exercise involving multiple lower body muscles, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Squats can be done with or without weights.
Some tips to help you attain the correct posture when doing a Squat include:
- Ensuring your knees are parallel to your feet
- Ensuring that your weight rests on the balls of your feet. This helps you avoid tilting to the front and falling
- Plant your heels on the floor as you squat and stand back up
- Keep your back straight and torso upright during your Squat.
The good thing about squats is that they can be done anywhere, and you don't need special equipment or a gym membership. If you are starting out, take advantage of your body weight, and when you find that you can go several rounds without getting tired, it's time to add weight.
You don't have to buy specialized equipment as you can use things in your house as weights, such as water bottles. If you have the budget, you can buy a home gym power rack or enroll in a gym.
Science-backed benefits of Squats
According to experts, squats are essential for your body as they offer the following benefits.
Strengthens Your Leg Muscles
Squats are one of the best exercises to strengthen the muscles in your lower body. They target the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and muscles in your calves, core, and lower back. Regular squats can help you build strength, improve your balance, and increase your mobility.
Therefore, include strength training exercises like squats in your exercise routine to tone your lower body muscles. This enhances your mobility, making bending over, walking, and exercising easy.
Enhanced Core Strength
Having strong core muscles is vital for balance and mobility. Squats can help you strengthen your core muscles. You're engaging your abs, lower back, and obliques when you squat to stabilize your body. This helps build a strong core, improving your posture, reducing back pain, and giving you more power during athletic activities.
Research shows that whenplanks are compared to squats in strengthening core muscles, the back Squat is more effective in activating the core muscles that support your back. Thus, improving your posture and reducing your injury risk while boosting your athletic performance.
Improves Your Mobility
Squats can help improve your mobility. You're stretching and strengthening your lower body muscles when you do squats, which can help you move more freely. This is particularly beneficial for people who have tight hips and weak knees.
Flexibility and mobility are prevalent in the elderly as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments tend to lose elasticity. This makes a simple act, such as walking or bending, a challenge. Therefore, squats should be encouraged in all age groups as it helps stretch and strengthen your muscles, making daily activities such as climbing stairs, walking, and bending easy.
Helps You Burn Fat and Lose Weight
If you watch exercise videos or go to the gym often, you must have noticed that squats are a must-exercise for all looking to lose or gain muscles. This is because squats can help you burn fat.
When you do squats, you're focusing on the muscles in your lower body, which are some of the largest muscles in your body, making them excellent exercise for burning calories and fat. This triggers the anabolic hormone production, which helps you shed fat and gain muscles.
A study comparing squats and leg presses using a weighted machine found that the results differed. However, when both exercises were at the same intensity, they found that squats engaged more muscles, triggering a better hormonal and psychological response than the leg press. That's why squats are essential to any weight loss, as they speed up metabolism and reduce your body fat.
Helps Strengthen Your Joints
Squats can also help you strengthen your joints. When you do a squat, you're pushing your body down, which helps to increase circulation around the joint. This can help reduce inflammation and improve the health of your joints.
Reduces Your Chances of Sustaining Injuries
Squats can help reduce your chances of sustaining injuries. When you do squats, you're strengthening the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and tissues in your lower body, which helps protect you from common injuries such as sprains and strains.
As observed in many athletes, injuries, such as sprains in the ankle, knees, and other joints, are prevalent. That's why it's recommended that they exercise regularly.
Squats can also help improve your posture. The anterior and posterior muscles mainly influence your posture. And when you squat, you're engaging all the muscles in your core and lower body, which helps keep your spine aligned. This can help you stand up straighter and reduce slouching.
Besides, when you are squatting, you are also engaging your core muscles which strengthen, thus preventing internal rotation of the shoulder and hunchback. To maintain a proper posture, you must also do stretching and other exercises, like yoga. This is highly encouraged in people who spend most of their day sitting at work desks.
Helps Increase Your Bone Mineral Density
Squats can also help increase your bone mineral density. When you do squats, you're putting stress on your bones, which helps to stimulate new bone growth and make them stronger. This is mostly observed in your spine and lower body. This is particularly beneficial for people with low bone mineral density due to aging or certain medical conditions.
A stronger bone density lowers the chances of injuries. A study on women in their post-menopause stage and suffering from osteoporosis or osteopenia greatly benefited from a 12 – week Squat routine. It helped improve their skeletal health and increase their bone mineral content.
Essential for Runners and Jumpers
Squats are essential for runners and jumpers because they strengthen the muscles in your lower body that provide power during running. Stronger leg muscles will give you more power when running and help improve your endurance.
Research shows that squats are an essential physical activity for any individual who engages in sports and should be done a minimum of 3 times a week. They help improve their sprint time, speed, and strength. Stronger leg muscles lower your risk of injuries.
Enhances Your Flexibility
Squats can also help improve your flexibility. When you do squats, you're stretching and lengthening the muscles in your lower body, which can help increase the range of motion and reduce joint stiffness.
Squats are also an effective way to ease pain in the body caused by poor posture or tight muscles. Doing a squat stretches out the tightened muscles in the hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, shoulders, mid and lower back, calves, and other areas of the body that may be causing discomfort or pain.
You Can Add Variations
Squats come in many variations, so if you want to mix it up or challenge yourself further, plenty of options are available for adding variety to this exercise. The different types of Squat exercises include:
- Back Squat: this is the most popular, and it has several variations, including pause back Squat, goblet squat, and split Squat.
- Hack Squat: Helps work on quadriceps growth.
Improves Your Confidence
Squats build strength and boost confidence levels due to increased physical capability and improved mobility. And the result is a well-sculpted body that makes you feel and look good in your clothes.
Safety Tips to Observe When Doing Squats
It's essential always to practice good form while doing squats since poor form could lead to injury over time - here are some tips:
- Keep chest lifted, and drive through heels instead of toes when standing back up after lowering down into a squat position
- Maintain proper alignment throughout the entire movement
- Never let knees extend beyond toes
- Use controlled movements throughout the entire squat set
- Avoid squatting too deep, as it increases the risk of injury
- Focus on squeezing your butt as if trying to crack an egg between your cheek
- Opt for lighter weights with high reps if needed
- Use aluminum baking soda as chalk for better grip. This will prevent slipping, and don't forget to breathe as you exercise.
Countless benefits are associated with doing squats regularly, from enhanced core strength and improved mobility to reduced chances of sustaining injuries and increased bone mineral density. They make us physically stronger, but squats also boost our mental health, thanks to increased confidence levels and overall mood boost.