Whether you're male or female, looking to gain or lose weight, improve athletic performance, or just boost your aesthetics, squatting should be the center piece of your routine.
Squatting often divides the serious trainees from the “exercisers” simply looking to see and be seen.
This exercise takes time to learn, produces tons of soreness in the beginning and is just plain hard work.
On the plus side, it'll give you far greater, and faster, results than any other activity, no matter what your goals may be.
I’ve yet to meet someone who hasn’t fallen madly in love with this exercise after putting in the work to learn how to perform them correctly.
Below are my top reasons that you should be squatting – a lot:
1) Your ass will get huge (in a good way)
Creating a strong pair of glutes has a laundry list of benefits. Aside from making your backside look better, building up this body part will make your waist appear smaller, balancing out the entire physique.
This is true not only for women, but men as well.
Have you ever heard the phrase “the guy with the biggest butt lifts the biggest weights”? This was said by Paul Anderson, a world champion Olympic lifter who was able to overhead press 400+ lbs back in 1955.
Even some of the most fierce men in the Iron Game know that a man with a big ass is strong as hell. Another saying I like is “girls who look good in yoga pants do more squats than yoga”. Spot on.
2) Squatting is a total body builder
The fastest way to a bigger set of arms is a stronger squat. Sounds like complete bullshit, I know.
The trouble with the human body is that it likes to grow as a whole. If you’ve seen the skinny guys blasting their guns 5 days per week with little to show for it, you know what I’m talking about.
It's almost impossible to force the biceps to grow independent of the rest of the body (without large quantities of drugs).
Through analyzing body weight and arm measurements of bodybuilders, it's been calculated that you can expect to add 1 inch to your upper arm measurement for every 15 lbs of lean body mass gained.
The easiest way to add this muscle mass is to gain over the entire body and squats work more than half of that equation by themselves.
Add in some heavy pushing and pulling movements and you'll be bursting your sleeves in no time.
3) Squatting transfers to real world strength
Squatting is a good replication of holding a heavy weight while on your feet, stationary, or walking.
And since we rarely lift heavy things while seated or lying down, the squat (along with the deadlift) is one of the best exercises to accomplish this.
Can you imaging someone sitting in their office chair struggling to press a heavy file box overhead when they could easily stand up and place it on the shelf?
4) It helps prevent back and knee injuries
Back injuries are a result of muscle weakness and a general unawareness of spinal position.
One of the most difficult things when working with an untrained client is getting them to flatten their spine.
Even when given a direct cue, they typically make a minute movement, then stare at you with a C-shaped spine (picture a vomiting cat).
Learning how to squat correctly teaches you how to hold a flat spine against a load and minimizes the chances for injury in your everyday life.
Knee pain is caused by weak muscles and joints paired with incorrect technique. When the average adult squats down, they are up on their toes, putting tremendous stress on the knee.
If I bend down like that, it hurts instantly and I typically squat 2-3 times per week pain-free. Studies show that people who squat have more robust knee joints and stronger muscles to support them.
5) You'll develop mental toughness
When you un-rack the bar and the weight threatens to crush you, it takes a bad SOB to accept the challenge and get on with it.
After years in the gym, I've found that the people who accept the challenge are able to consistently achieve their goals, and the people who don’t tend to give up easily.
As a bonus, finding the motivation to file your TPS reports correctly will seem like small potatoes compared to what you do in the gym.
6) It replaces a bunch of other exercises
Squatting works more than half the muscles in the body – actually closer to all the muscles of the body.
From the top down, your upper back muscles support the bar (like a shrug) while your chest helps you hold the bar against the back.
Your entire core (spinal erectors, abs, and obliques) is fighting to keep your spine in place.
Your glutes and hamstrings are controlling the hip joint and your quads are working hard to extend the knee.
Your calves have to work overtime to keep you balanced.
Not much left to be desired besides some arm and deltoid work.
It's important to note that you won’t notice this effect with a broomstick across your back though, adequate weight is required.
7) You'll experience less soreness
Let me know if this scenario sounds familiar.
You blast your legs with squats, leg presses, leg curls, and leg extensions. Then you have to take the elevator for the next six days until, yep, it’s leg day again.
Believe it or not, squatting more frequently produces much less soreness. If I squat 3 times per week, I get almost zero soreness.
Squatting 2 times per week and I’m just sore the day after.
Squatting once per week and I’m scared I’ll fall if I allow a slight bend of the knee at any point during the day (aka the Herman Munster walk).
With more frequent training, you can split up the volume across multiple workouts per week and avoid those crazy sore days.
In fact, unless you have aspirations of becoming a professional bodybuilder, you could get away with just doing a few sets of squats at the beginning of every workout regardless of what other muscle group you're working that day.
Just think, never having a “leg day” again!
8) You'll improve for any sport
At one point, I made it my priority to increase my squat strength over a period of about 4 months.
I performed only sets of 5 reps, including warm-up. As a result of increasing my 5 rep max by over 100 lbs, a bunch of other stuff magically happened.
I went from being relatively slow to being able to run the 40 yard dash in roughly 5 seconds.
My vertical leap rivaled that of lifelong athletes (I’ve never played a sport in my life, by the way). And what do you think happened to my endurance as a result of all that low rep training? Well, I was able to perform 20 reps with my old 5 rep max!
Squatting increases strength. Increasing strength increases everything else!
What's more, if you’re an athlete and you don’t squat, you either need to get serious and get squatting or get ready for a lackluster career.
So have you fallen in love (with the squat)? Share your squat victories in the comments below.