There are two teams when it comes to squatting. Team #1 loves the squat, in fact, they swear by the exercise. Team #2 has a completely opposite view on the topic, and they even swear against it. Where does the fear of squats come from? Could be “studies” that have shown they are bad for your knees, or maybe because people just do not like doing them. However, if you are on a workout program that does not have you regularly squatting, get a new program.
Squatting can be bad for your knees, IF done incorrectly, OR if you have already injured knees. Most likely, if you have experienced pain during a squat, it had to do with the way you were doing them, not the actual exercise. Just like any other exercise, it needs to be scaled to your level and progressed as you get stronger.
Why is the squat important?
Squats are a compound movement
Compound movements are those that use multiple muscle groups and joints such as squats, deadlifts, and pushups. You should be doing compound exercises to stimulate muscle growth in different areas of the body, which also happens to burn more calories than isolation exercises (like a bicep curl). Squats do not just build muscle in the legs. A proper squat engages the back, abs and even your arms if you are adding weight. The bottom line is; if you work out to build muscle squats are mandatory.
Squats are functional
The term ‘functional’ gets thrown around a lot, and for good reason. A functional exercise is one that makes you perform better in whatever movements you do regularly. For example, working on an agility ladder may be very functional for a lacrosse player but not so much for a desk worker. Squats are a primal movement pattern, we are normally able to deep squat before we can walk. Whether you realize it or not, you already squat every day if you ever sit down and stand up. There are actually few exercises more functional than a squat.
Squats Burn Fat
Compound movements burn calories. Lots of them. If your goal is to lose weight, you need these types of movements in your workout routine. Not only do they require calories to perform, but they build muscle (which is metabolic), which means you’ll also burn calories afterwards and throughout the day. Squatting regularly will help tip the scale in your favor, literally.
Squats help prevent injury
Your legs are your base of support, so you need them to be strong. In addition to targeting muscles in your legs, squats use many joints like your ankles, knees and hips. This combination works to help make you more stable because they keep those joints mobile. As we age, this gets even more important!
As mentioned earlier, squats can be bad for your knees IF you do them improperly. But the truth is, any physical activity can be bad for you if not done correctly. Squats are no exception.
Follow this simple guide to squat right
Position your feet under your shoulders and point the toes straight(ish). It’s ok to point your toes outwards a little for comfort.
Push your hips back while bending your knees. (like sitting onto a chair)
Keep your chest out and your feet flat on the floor.
When at the bottom, push through your heels and into the ground to stand up.
Squeeze your butt at the top of the movement, you should be at a full stand.
If you are new to squatting, be sure to modify the movement to keep yourself in check, and keep reps/sets low. YOU SHOULD NOT FEEL ANY PAIN. If you experience pain, reevaluate your form or scale back on the weight. Start slow. Practice makes perfect, but you can only practice if you stay injury free!