Fitness

Squats: The benefits, and Why You Should Add Them to Your Exercise Arsenal

January 10, 2022
5 minute read

Do you ever feel like you spend too much time sitting down? If so, you're not alone. Many of us spend the majority of our day in a seated position, and this can have negative consequences for our health. One great way to counteract the negative effects of sitting is to perform squats regularly. Squats are a simple, yet effective exercise that work many different muscles in the body. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of squats and why you should add them to your exercise arsenal!

Squats are a great exercise for improving your overall health. They help to increase muscle mass, improve joint function, and reduce the risk of injuries. Squats also have a positive impact on your cardiovascular system and can help to improve blood flow to your lower body. In addition, squats can help to improve balance and coordination. And last but not least, squats can help you burn calories and lose weight!

There are many different ways to perform a squat, so there is sure to be a variation that is right for you. If you are new to squatting, start with a bodyweight squat. This can be done by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and then lowering your buttocks down towards the floor while keeping your chest and head up. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, pause for a moment and then return to the starting position. Picking a spot to focus on while in the upright position will help you maintain the correct posture and prevent you from rounding your back.

If you want to increase the challenge, you can hold a weight in your hands while squatting. Dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, and kettlebells are all great options. For even more of a challenge, try performing a single-leg squat or a sumo squat. These variations work different muscles in the legs and will help to improve your balance and coordination.

Squats are an excellent exercise to add to your workout routine, regardless of your fitness level or goals. In this article, I will be introducing you to the 2 most common variations of the squat; the Front Squat and the Back Squat.  Both of these are amazing exercises that should be added to your routine, if they're not already there.  At the end of the article I will show you exactly how to get started with both, and how to add weight and improve your squat performance.  Always remember to stay safe when exercising, listen to your body, and focus on proper form.

The Front Squat

To perform a front squat, stand facing the bar at a typical squat rack with the bar at your shoulder level.  Begin by placing the bar on your shoulders with your finger tips under the bar and palms up. The weight being shifted to the front of your body keeps your spine healthy while placing the resistance on your quadriceps.  Once the bar is off the rack, lower the weight until your legs are parallel with the ground, and push through your heels back up. Focus on exploding off the ground and driving through your feet. 

For individuals looking to improve their hip mobility and strength, the front squat can be an extremely effective exercise. Unlike the traditional back squat, which is known to place more emphasis on the muscles of the posterior chain, such as the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, the front squat acts primarily on the anterior chain – meaning that it targets the quadriceps, groin muscles, pelvic floor muscles, and abdominal wall. In addition to this key difference in muscle activation patterns, another advantage of using a front squat is that the movement uses significantly lighter weight than that typically used for a back squat. Your spine does not bear any weight when performing a front squat, and you can obtain similar results in terms of muscle activation with much less strain placed on your frame (1). Furthermore, since this exercise places greater emphasis on the front leg muscles than on those of your back leg – specifically targeting common problem areas such as your hamstring flexibility or quadriceps strength – it can be extremely valuable in identifying any weaknesses or imbalances. Overall, whether you are an athlete who needs to improve your jumping or sprinting performance, or are simply looking to incorporate more health-promoting movements into your regular fitness routine, the front squat offers maximum results while ensuring the safety of your spine.

The Back Squat

The back squat is the godfather of all variations of the squat. It’s the most common and the most stereotypically seen version. Go into any gym in any country and you will see someone performing a back squat, and for good reason. The back squat, like the front squat, offers benefits that can be seen at age or ability. Performing a proper back squat is a similar motion to the front squat with the exception of bar placement. Place the bar on your back, resting on your shoulders, and palms offering support under the bar. Lower the weight until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push through your heels and drive the weight back up. 

Back squats are a fundamental weight-lifting exercise that offer a host of health benefits. First and foremost, squats promote the release of testosterone and human growth hormone, which are key for muscle growth and development. Additionally, squats can help to prevent osteoporosis by increasing bone density and supporting overall skeletal health. By putting weight on the posterior chain, or the backside of the body, squats also allow the spine to build strength and handle more pressure.

In addition to these physical benefits, squats also help to improve coordination and flexibility in the entire posterior chain—from your hamstrings and calves, to your glutes and hip flexors, to your quadriceps (2). Furthermore, as an exercise that requires balance between the anterior and posterior sides of the body, squats also strengthen your core by promoting proper alignment throughout the movement. Indeed, whether you're looking for ways to enhance your performance in the gym or simply improve your overall health and well-being, back squats are a versatile exercise that should be part of any workout routine.

If you’re a beginner in learning about the variations of the squat, there are certain principles to learn before moving up to expert status. The most important being how to progress with your squats. It is very important to not change too much at once. Imagine you are performing a squat with 200lbs for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. You think this is too light and would like to add weight and do more reps. To prevent injury, pick either WEIGHT or REPS to add, never add both at once. Remain at 3 sets of 10 reps, and add weight, or stay at the same weight and add repetitions. Keeping proper form is the only way to guarantee you stay healthy and well while performing a squat. If you are concerned your form is not perfect, or want to make sure it stays perfect, EZPT offers a personal trainer, and physical therapist in your ear.  Be sure to download and check it out!

The front and back squat are two of the best exercises you can do to improve your overall fitness. They offer a host of benefits, including increased strength, improved posture, and better balance. In addition, squats are versatile – they can be added to any workout routine without much friction. And don’t forget proper form! Improper technique can lead to injuries down the road. Make sure you download our free EZPT app to ensure perfect execution every time. With EZPT by your side, you can progress in your squat journey and start seeing results sooner rather than later. Are you ready to add some squats into your routine? Let us know how it goes!

References; 

  1. JW;, G. J. C. T. M. D. G. G. M. C. A biomechanical comparison of back and front squats in healthy trained individuals. Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19002072/ 
  2. The health and performance benefits of the squat ... - medcrave online. Retrieved May 13, 2022, from https://medcraveonline.com/MOJYPT/MOJYPT-03-00042.pdf 

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