Squats really are the king of all exercises. No training program is truly complete without them. Although I say this over and over to everybody, I don’t think that too many people truly realize the benefits of squats. In this post, I will go over what I believe are the top five benefits of squats.
1. Full Body Exercise
Getting under a loaded bar with weight on it and while maintaining perfect posture, dropping down ass to grass and then lifting all that weight back up to the starting position, what better way to do more with less. Out of the many benefits of squats, this is probably the most important one. Performing the movement just described requires the use of every muscle in the body. Now I can already hear the critics saying, “well I was told squats just work your quads”. To these people I respond, partial squats mostly work your quads. However, full depth squats work your entire body. To achieve full depth and reap most of the benefits of this incredible exercise we want to make sure that when we drop down that are butt is dropping down below our knees. Anything other than that is just a partial squat, and partial squats are just not the same thing as regular squats.
2. Best Mass Builder
Whenever you go into your local gym, box, weight room, etc. be sure to take a look around for anybody doing squats. Take an extra special look at the lifters who are squatting big weights. Do you notice anything different about them? Yes, that’s right! They are freaking massive. Since the squat is a full body exercise, don’t you think that squatting big weight requires a big body? Here’s the deal folks, when you squat, you are getting underneath a heavy barbell. Your back, spinal column, rib cage, etc., has to support that heavy weight, otherwise you will get crushed. Therefore, the body has grow considerably in size in order to support that weight. This makes squats one of the best, if not the best mass builders out there. To quote Dan John in his book Mass Made Simple, “Any properly executed squat…… may be a more effective muscle-builder than all other exercises combined.” So for those of you who keep saying you want to gain some size, I have a simple suggestion, DO SQUATS!
3. Increased Testosterone
Since squats work so many different muscle groups over such a long range of motion, assuming you are performing them correctly, then it should be no surprise that squats will help elevate anabolic hormone levels in the body, such as testosterone. Science also backs this up. According to a study published from the University of North Texas in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 10 resistance trained men aged around 25 years old performed 6 sets of 10 repetitions of squats or leg presses and had blood samples taken immediately after exercise, 15 minutes after exercise and 30 minutes after exercise. The squat had the highest increase in testosterone and growth hormone for all three testing protocols compared to the leg press (2014). This is because the squat, although performed with less weight, takes more total work and effort to perform than the leg press. Thus, the squat is not only a powerful mass builder, but a powerful fat burner as well.
4. Great For Performance Athletes
Aside from the mass building and hormonal benefits of squats, we also have the athletic benefits. These include increased coordination, balance, stability, power and confidence. If you call yourself an athlete, you should be doing squats, no exceptions. The benefits are too great to ignore. Want to run faster? Do squats! Want to jump higher? Do squats! The squat works all of the muscles that are responsible for acceleration and vertical jump. This is why it kills me whenever I go into a college gym and/or public gym and I see high school/college athletes doing endless sets of bicep curls instead of squats. What a waste of potential. Look, I went to college and I understand that the primary concern in college is getting laid. Before I get out of hand, let me just say this; squats will help you get leaner, more muscular and more athletic at a much greater magnitude than ANY amount of bicep curls will. So pick the wiser of the two so you can benefit both your team and your female colleagues.
5. Requires Great Mobility
A lot of people are going to get confused by this benefit, so let me clarify a bit. We already covered how squats will help performance athletes due to increased balance, stability, etc. However, for athletes and non-athletes alike, this exercise is a great assessment of muscular imbalances. Since this exercise is really a total body exercise, it requires the precise and finely tuned coordination of all of the bodies muscles working in synergy. Therefore, if something is out of balance, the squat will draw that imbalance out very quickly. The squat is also an excellent exercises for assessing and improving posture as well. Let’s look at olympic weightlifters as an example. John Grimek, the 1948 Mr. Universe, was formerly an olympic weightlifter in his earlier years. Grimek would often refer to the olympic lifts as “posture exercises”. After all, anybody who has ever done the olympic lifts knows how critical posture is when catching the weight. The primary strength builder for the olympic lifts is the squat, because the squat, when performed properly, will require all of the postural muscles to work properly in order to balance the bar. This is especially true with deep squats, or ass to grass squats.
In summary, if you are not doing squats, you are missing out. These are just some of the amazing benefits of squats. Make a commitment to yourself right now to get under that bar and go deep the next time you are at the gym.
Shaner AA., Vingren JL., Hatfield DL., Budnar RG Jr., Duplanty AA. , Hill DW. (2014, April) The acute hormonal response to free weight and machine weight resistance exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(4):1032-40.