Have you ever noticed toddlers play? They instantly drop into perfect squats every now and then to pick up toys and can sit in a squat position for what seems like ages. Despite raising twins, this simple physical behavior made an immense impact on me only when I started doing squats.
We are all born with the flexibility and agility to our muscles optimally, but as we grow up we use this skill less and less and eventually find the once easy and normal activity, to be difficult and draining.
Ever since I started going to the gym 3 years back, the first thing (after some basic stretching) I was shown to do was “SQUATS”. I was like, ‘Heck, this looks simple’! But it turned out to be one hell of a complex thing for me!! For the first few times, I struggled to get the form right. Over time I mastered squats and a multitude of squat variations. Now, I regularly incorporate a number of squat variations in my routine. And undoubtedly, I have benefited a lot in terms of strength from the humble squat.
So, the most basic question, why is the simple looking squat such an important exercise? Well, the answer is…
A squat is a full-body exercise
Though squats are perceived to be a leg exercise, in reality, it is a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily four muscle groups; core, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The squat also involves a host of secondary muscles, such as the muscles of the hips and thighs and upper-body muscles such as shoulders and forearms (if done with barbell or weights). Further, squats help a great deal in toning and tightening of lower abdomen, thighs, and buttocks.
Squats burn more fat
Squats are called the king of all exercises because they aid in building muscle mass by catalyzing an anabolic environment. The most important thing while attempting a squat, is the form. If done in the right form, squats are so intense that they trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH), vital for muscle growth. So squats can actually help you improve both your upper and lower body strength. The more the muscle the better the burning of fat – for every pound of additional muscle gained, your body burnS an additional 50-70 calories per day!
Squats are no fuss exercise
Squats is a no fuss exercise that doesn’t require any special equipment, a fancy gym membership or a particular place time mandate. It is the best form of body weight exercise you can do anywhere and anytime. All you need to do a perfect squat is a little space and the awareness of the correct basic squat technique. Once you get comfortable doing simple squats, you may try adding some weights such as stools, water bottles, dumbbells or maybe even your baby! Watch this fun video
Squats improve mobility and balance
Squats are unparalleled when it comes to increasing leg strength. Developing strong legs now will help you stay mobile and alert even in old age. Squats also work out stabilizing the core muscles, which help in maintaining balance and rhythm. Squats work wonders in building strong bones and supple joints.
Squats help in keeping an erect body posture
Squats are known to increase our levels of awareness regarding form and posture. When you become aware of your form during doing squats, this awareness is carried throughout the day and becomes part of your conduct. Someone who does squats often will never walk, sit or stand with a hunched back or dropping shoulders or hanging neck! I am perhaps the best example of this.
Squats improve digestion
Squats improve overall digestion by the pumping of body fluids and delivery of nutrition to all tissues, organs, and glands. Regularly doing squats helps in regulating bowel movements and also resolves gastric issues.
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T DO SQUATS?
The only thing that can ruin a squat is a bad squat!
Blessed are those who can do perfect squats. Some people find it difficult to do squats due to several reasons such as weak knees, surgery or injury. Just because you can’t squat doesn’t mean that you can’t still get after it in the gym.
I used to do many squat variations with weights till a couple of months back until a knee injury from a bicycle crash in March this year forced me to slow down and take it easy. My right knee was hurt and the pain persists. I intend to allow it some rest and enough time to heal. In the meantime, I researched for effective squat alternatives and was pleasantly surprised. There is a host of knee-friendly lower-body workouts that work just as fine, such as deadlifts, glute bridges, side kicks, donkey kicks and some more. These workouts are simple, effective and have the same impact as squats.
Don’t avoid squats or lower body strengthening exercises. The squat is the single most effective compound exercise that does far more than a bunch of exercises put together. There are a thousand ways to incorporate squats outside the gym. Like I do 20 squats each time I go to the washroom. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s fun and it takes less than 2 minutes! In a day I manage 80-100 squats just like that!
Not doing squats is not a crime, what is, is not doing anything!!