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When it comes to lower-body weightlifting exercises, there is perhaps no move that is more important than the squat.
There may be several variations of the squat, but the most commonly used is the barbell back squat. Here, the weight is positioned on the upper back, held in place with both hands while the spine is in a neutral position and the feet shoulder-width apart. We squat down while slowly moving our knees to the side and moving our hips back as we bring the bar down in a straight, vertical path until our hips are lower than our knees. Then we squat back up with our knees out and chest up, locking our knees and hips at the top. That’s one repetition.
Performed properly, the squat is an excellent way to work out our lower bodies and build overall strength. Here are five reasons we should all squat more.
1 Boosts athletic performance. Since squats effectively build and strengthen the legs, this means increased leg drive and power. Translated to sports, we are able to jump higher, run faster and build more explosiveness. Handy when trying to snag that rebound or block that shot.
2 It works out the entire body. While all the leg muscles would seem to be primarily involved in squatting, this is, in fact, a full body exercise that recruits even our upper bodies—including our abdominal muscles to stabilize the lift.
3 Increases testosterone levels. Squats have been proven to lift testosterone levels. And it is this hormone that is particularly responsible for muscle growth. So if we work out other body parts when we do squats, it is likely that other muscle groups will benefit from the increased testosterone levels. Ergo, more squats, more muscle.
4 Shapes your legs and backside. On the aesthetics side, of course, doing squats will effectively sculpt our leg muscles, giving them not only strength, but also size and definition. This includes a rounder, shapelier backside to perfectly complement our upper-body gains.
5 Improves functional fitness. Let’s say you are redecorating your place and would need to move around some furniture. If you’ve been squatting, performing tasks that involve leg strength are a breeze. Picking up that couch, toddler or whatnot just got a whole lot easier.
If you are new to squats, don’t fret. You can begin doing air squats with your own bodyweight with your hands behind your head, until you get used to the movement. Move up from there and see yourself get stronger.