Squats are sometimes referred to as the king of exercise, a title many seasoned trainees will tell you is well-earned.
A lower body workout that engages your core, this movement puts your entire body in an anabolic state.
That means less tissue breakdown, and more muscle growth and repair.
Basically, squats can help your entire body grow giving you the best bang for your bucks!
Here are a few other things that squats can do for you:
1. Release Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (HGH) helps you burn fat and build muscle.
It does this by binding to fat cells and forcing them to shed weight; and by stimulating your kidneys to produce insulin-like growth-factor 1, which encourages the growth of bone, cartilage, and muscle.
A heavy squat session can result in a surge of growth hormone release, dissipated over several hours.
2. Strengthen Ligaments
You need to focus on your connective tissues as well as your muscles if you want to be strong and powerful.
With sturdy tendons and ligaments, you can transmit more force to your muscles with a reduced chance of injury. Try partial squats for maximum ligament engagement.
3. Improve Flexibility
Known mostly as a muscle-builder, squats also help to loosen and lengthen the tight muscles in your lower body.
Your quads and hips are released as you lower yourself to the ground. Good form is critical here.
The split squat especially is a very effective flexibility enhancer.
4. Heighten Athletic Performance
Jumping, taking a defensive stance in basketball, and doing a flip turn in swimming all engage the same groups of muscles as a squat does.
Squatting improves your vertical jump and your sprint speed.
It’s a functional movement that shows up everywhere, so is pertinent to pretty much every kind of athlete.
5. Reduces Cellulite
Cellulite is an unseemly fat deposit that appears as dimpled flesh on the butt, thighs, and stomach.
How do you get rid of it?
Reduce fat and tone muscle, especially in the affected areas–all of the places the squat hits hardest.
6. Improve Posture
Good posture increases our confidence and our energy levels. It can even help reduce something as unobvious as Temporomandibular joint (TMJ – pain in the jawbone) pain.
Doing a proper squat requires an engaged core and a neutral back.
They strengthen your glutes, which results in the natural distribution of your body weight evenly on your spine.
7. Relieve Back Pain
Chronic low-level pain contributes to mood disorders like depression and anxiety and effects an estimated 80% of the US adult population.
The strengthening of the thighs and hips, along with the coordination of the abs and lower back, helps to reduce back pain.
This makes sense: better posture, less pain.
8. Improve Balance
Stronger legs, calves, and thighs mean stumbles will turn into spills less often.
Squats hit your core muscles, which help to stabilize your entire trunk.
If you are looking for a real balance challenge, build yourself up to pistol squats.
9. Improve Alignment
Most of us have bodies that are out of alignment.
Ideally, our knees would be stacked directly over our ankles, our hips over our knees, and our shoulders over our hips—on both sides.
While many people take a trip to the chiropractor to solve this problem, a few weeks of squats, performed with good form, can set you right.
10. Enhance Circulation
Squatting increases cardiac output–that means more blood being pumped by the heart.
Poor circulation often affects our lower bodies the most, and squats bring the heart closer to the level of the feet.
This means less numbness and tingling of the lower extremities.
11. Heighten Energy Levels
When your body becomes more efficient at pumping blood, it has an improved ability to deliver two essentials that your cells and tissues need: oxygen and nutrients.
Squatting increases your heart and lung health, giving you more energy to do the things you love.
12. Help Your Poop
Humans have a very different digestive system to other animals.
Because of the shape of our colon, we have to push our waste upwards.
Squats can help this difficult process run a little more smoothly and loosen up your bowels by stretching the muscles around your waist and thighs.
Try jump squats if you’re backed up.
Squats are an essential part of any workout, and you never have to get bored with them.
Front squats, back squats, plyo squats, pistol squats, split squats, sumo squats – the variety is endless.
Squats, more so than almost every other exercise, demand good form to be effective and minimize the risk of injury. Make sure to include them in your workout 1-2 times per week.