By Martin Ebner
If you're not squatting, you're doing it wrong!
I really can't emphasise this enough. If you're anyway at all serious about getting into shape, DON'T neglect squats. If you have just one fitness goal, make it to learn how to squat properly. The immense health benefits of squatting are undeniable.
Now, I won't lie. Squats are far from easy. It's a complex movement with many factors to consider. This is perhaps the main reason that the squat rack in the gym is almost always empty. That and the old urban myth that they're bad for you knees. The truth is, if you perform squats properly, they are not only great for you knees, but your entire body too!
7 reasons to squat
1 - Squats not only build muscle and strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, they also create the ideal environment throughout the entire body. Naturally releasing testosterone and growth hormone. If you want to increase muscle mass and strength in all areas, squats are a must do!
2 - Squats relate to a myriad of real-life activities helping to avoid injury and increasing efficiency in everyday life.
3 - Squats have the ability, when done correctly, to strengthen joints and prevent injury.
4 - Squats are cheap and can be done anywhere. No expensive machine or apparatus required.
5 - They strengthen your core. Isn't it odd that most body builders have the tendency to "skip" their abs exercises yet more often than not have the most tremendously sculpted 6 packs ? The answer, not really when you consider the immense work placed on the core through squatting. Forget crunches! If you want a hot looking midsection, squat!
6 - They help maintain mobility.
7 - Last but certainly not least, they help build you a fantastic booty!
How to perform a basic body weight squats
1 - Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. You can rotate your feet out slightly if this is more comfortable.
2 - Extend your arms straight out in front of you, palms facing down, head in a neutral position.
3 - Slowly bend your knees, hips and ankles, lowering until you reach a 90-degree angle. If mobility allows, Go deeper! The lower you go, the more effective the exercise. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. DO NOT allow your back to round (like a turtle’s shell). This will cause unnecessary stress on the lower back.
4 - Push back up, driving through your HEELS to the starting position. Your feet should be flat throughout the entire movement.
5 - Repeat.
Form NOT weight is by far the most important aspect of any exercise. If you're at all unsure about form, ask one of the health professionals at your gym to spot you. If you're not a member of a gym, practice in-front of a mirror.
Now you know how, why not give our 4 week squat challenge a try.