If you are like many guys that I’ve seen at the gym, they avoid performing a squat workout because they fear getting injured. They worry that squat exercises will hurt their knees or back and unfortunately they disregard some of the major benefits of squats.
We are going to cover those benefits and how to use proper form when it comes to the squat technique to insure you maximize your muscular potential and never get injured doing this vital growth-building movement.
Squats: The Basics And The Benefits
Squats are known as a compound or full-body exercise. This means is works multiple muscles at once.
In fact, when you perform a squat workout, you’ll be working your:
✔ Quadriceps (thigh muscles)
✔ Hamstrings (muscles on back of the legs)
✔ Glutes (buttock muscles)
✔ Erector Spinae (lower back)
✔ Calf muscles
You’ll also be strengthening your ligaments, bones and even the tendon insertion points throughout your lower body. Besides being a super exercise for the lower body, the upper body gets a workout, too.
You’ll develop core strength; garnering increased strength and stability in your back, abdominals and obliques. Even your arms, shoulders and upper back play a vital role in the squat technique
Squat Win #1: They Release More Muscle-Maximizing Growth Hormones When Done With Intensity.
So why are squats so beneficial to building a muscular body?
Well, the first major benefit is the release of growth hormones or GH which play an important role in muscle growth.
Basically GH stimulates cell reproduction and repair and tissue growth. Squat exercises are the best when it comes to releasing more growth hormones, because they work the body with such an intensity.
Squats can be so taxing on the body that the body sends signals that your muscles need to grow in order to handle such an extreme workout.
Squat Win #2: More Muscle Means A Higher Metabolism And Easier To Maintain Less Body Fat.
Another big benefit to performing a squat workout regularly is that by adding more muscle to your lower body, you make it easier to keep excess fat off. This is because the more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolism will be.
A revved up metabolism means more calories burned each day and less fat!
Squat Win #3: Squats Will Increase Your Overall Power And Strength
The third benefit to squats is that you’ll have more strength and power.
If you consistently perform squats properly, your strength will sky-rocket. Not only in your legs but everywhere. You can expect your upper body lifts to increase as well.
If you’ve been stuck in a plateau on the bench press but never squat, try adding them to your workout routine.
If you consistently do them correctly for six months, you are guaranteed to see the weight you bench press go up.
In fact, if you can work up to squatting 1.5 to 2 times your body weight on squats, your arms, back and chest can’t help but grow!
Squat Win #4: Squats Will Make You Less Injury Prone
Squats are also beneficial when it comes to better knee health and better posture.
Regularly performing squats (at least once every 7 to 10 days), will strengthen your core and stabilizing muscles. This will help you prevent lower back injuries and give you a better posture.
The majority worry that squats will injure your knees. Nothing can be further from the truth.
In fact, by squatting deeply, you will improve your knees will become much stronger and the words, “knee injury” or “knee problems” will never cross your lips.
Squats: The Rules
Performing the squat exercise, whether using a barbell squat rack or pulley-based squat rack or Smith Machine, is the best movement for priming your body for both leg muscle growth and full body muscularity.
Of course I prefer using the free-standing barbell squat since it is a free weight movement. The advantage of being a free weight movement allows you to better work the supporting muscles and joints (back, shoulders, abdominals, etc).
The Smith Machine is more rigid and allows only movement in a single plane and is more of an unnatural movement. So stick to the squat rack that allows you to pull away freely with an Olympic bar/barbell.
To get the squat benefits, you need to follow two simple rules:
1. Go heavy or go home
2. Go deep, get strong
The first rule means that you want to go as heavy as possible. You’ll build amazing leg strength this way.
Sure, you could stay light and push out hundreds of reps and you’ll get a little stronger but you will end up with the legs of a marathon runner.
That doesn’t make you imagine big, muscular legs, does it? No, you want to go heavy.
To focus on strength building, you would stay in the 1 to 5 rep range. For hypertrophy, you would do sets of 8 to 12 reps.
The Proper Squat Technique
Doing squats properly is key to maximizing strength and muscle growth and minimizing the chances of an injury occurring.
First and foremost, always warm up before performing squats, especially if you have poor leg and hip flexibility. Perform a combination of quad, hip and hamstring stretches and warm up by performing sets of very light weight squats.
Here is the setup for the squat exercise:
1. Keep your feet about shoulder width apart
2. Angle your feel out at 45 degrees out. This is a natural foot position.
3. Keep your back straight and your chest out throughout the movement
4. Have the bar rest on your shoulder blades
5. Keep your head facing forward and eyes focused straight ahead
6. Grab the bar with a tight and firm wrist grip
7. Keep your elbows held back throughout the movement
8. Keep the weight on your heels. You want to push the weight from your heels and NOT your toes.
Set the bar height on the rack to about chest level. You then dip underneath the bar and get set to squat using the above setup.
Take the bar off the rack slowly and then take a step back and get set to squat. As you squat down, keep your knees pointed outward, over your toes.
As you bend at the knees, your hips should shift back, keeping you more stable. Keep your eyes and head facing forward.
At the bottom of the squat, your hip joint will be lower than your knee joint if you’ve done the squat properly. Note, this is the safest way to perform squats.
Now you are ready to drive the bar back up. You want to use the momentum you created when you squatted down and drive your hips back up to the starting position.
So the upward movement of the squat uses your hips rather than your knees. As your hips drive the weight up, you should squeeze your glutes and your heels should be digging into the ground to help push the weight up.
Mark Rippetoe’s Squat Videos
If you want to really increase strength and take your muscular development to a whole new level, then squats are a must.
To get the benefits of squats and do them safely, you need to squat deep and squat heavy. I promise you, you do squats properly and consistently and your strength and mass gains will explode!
Squats are just one of the fantastic ways to help maximize your muscular growth potential.
If you’d like more sure-fire ways to put on lean, strong muscle, please take a look at the No-Nonsense Muscle Building Program.
This 29 week program will help you build a sexy, muscular body in the most efficient way possible.
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