Any strength training regimen is incomplete without squat exercises. Squats can be explained as resistance training exercises, which aim to increase strength and endurance in the muscles of the lower limbs.
The muscle groups that squats target are Vastus, Medialis, Intermedius and Lateralus, which are more commonly known as quadriceps and hamstring muscles. The benefits of squats don’t just stop at strengthening the lower limbs, but these also provide better support to costal muscles, upper back muscles and lower back muscles. Since squats stimulate production of hormones that play a vital role in growth of muscles, these exercises will improve your core strength and provide endurance to your knees which usually face much wear and tear due to any weight lifting exercises.
Squats also improve the strength of the ligaments, bones and ligaments, hence providing you with the perfect warm up before you lift weights.
How To Do Squat Exercises?
Before you start with squats, you need to get a better understanding of the right way to do these exercises. Incorrect posture and movement can cause injury to muscles, which is highly undesirable for any fitness buff. So use these simple steps to do a squat just right.
Before you start with squats, your body must be warmed up sufficiently. Do any cardio exercise – like walking, cycling or use a stepper. It is best to do squats in front of a full sized mirror so that you can see your posture, and make corrections should your posture be incorrect.
- Begin by standing straight. Your hips and knees must be in a straight line and don’t bend your knees at all. Stand with your feet slightly apart.
- Contract your belly muscles and slowly move your body in to a sitting posture
- Lower your hips as much as you can, without losing your balance. The idea is to make your knees come in a straight line with your hips.
- By taking your weight on your heels, come back to the straight standing position. Don’t lock your knees; instead keep them slightly bent.
- The perfect way to not rush with the exercise is to count from one to five as you go down. Then again count backwards from five to one as you stand back up.
- Repeat the exercise in sets of 3, with 8 repetitions in each set. Take a rest of 30 to 60 seconds between each set.
- Also, remember to take deep breaths while you do the exercise. Inhale as you go down to squat and exhale as you come back in the original position.
Are There Any Variations In Squat Exercises?
If you have mastered the traditional squat, you can bring more variation to your workout by trying other forms of squats.
- The most effective squat for strength training is to go squats with light dumbbells. These are squats like your traditional squat, but you hold 5KG dumbbells in both hands, which make the overall upper body weight your thighs are supporting more. This will tone your thigh and butt muscles very effectively.
- You can also try the Sumo Squat. Stand with your feet more than shoulder width apart and turn your toes outwards. Lower your body in to squatting position to the extent that your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then come back in the original position.
- Prisoner squats are also a great variation to ordinary squats. Place your hands behind your head. Move your right leg forward. Now bend the right leg in front to make it parallel to the ground. Alternately your left leg should also bend and the left knee should touch the ground. Rise, and come in the original position. Now repeat the squat by placing your left leg forward and making the right knee touch the ground in a kneeling position.
- Split squats can help strengthen your calf muscles immensely. Place a stool in front of you. Face away from the stool and stand with your back towards the stool. Place your left foot on the stool and bend your right knee to make the right thigh run parallel to the ground. Hold the position for few seconds and come back in original position, i.e. standing straight with both legs on the ground. Now repeat the motions by placing your right foot on the stool and bending your left knee.
Are Squats Really An Effective Workout?
Undoubtedly, squats are very effective in improving the strength, endurance and stamina of your lower body. They help you build stronger lower limb muscles and add definition to your calves and thighs. As the muscles in your thighs and calves develop due to squats, you will find that lifting heavier weights becomes increasingly easy. Squats don’t just improve your stamina, they also improve your metabolism and regain the strength of your tendons and ligaments as you move towards a more rigorous workout.
10 Benefits Of Squats
If you are still not convinced that squats are a MUST ADD to your daily workout routine, we will state for you the 10 top benefits of doing squats regularly.
- Squat exercises triggers anabolic growth of muscles, helping you not just add more muscle mass to your legs and hips but also to your upper body
- People who perform squats regularly notice that their knee joints and hip joints don’t weaken as they age. In fact, since squats keep these joints working regularly, they keep these joints well lubricated and reduce stiffness.
- For runners, squats can greatly enhance sprint time and add extra edge to your run.
- For those who find it difficult to go other lower body exercises like flutter kicks or thrusts, squats can be the perfect full – lower – body workout because of its versatility and because it works out all the larger muscle groups in the lower body.
- Squats also enhance the secretion of testosterone and anabolic hormones, adding to your endurance and improving your athletic performance on an overall basis.
- Squats are the perfect exercise to get a well toned buttock, as they work the muscles in the butt effectively and give them more definition.
- Squats also improve the co-ordination between your brain and muscles, helping you improve on your posture and your balance too.
- By doing squats regularly, you get lesser prone to injuries as these provide you with explosive connective tissue strength and even better muscular strength in the lower limbs.
- Squats will also help improve your flexibility.
- Squats help you build lean muscle mass in the lower body, which in turn helps to burn off excess fat accumulated on the hips, thighs and calves.