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The truth about squats

A common misconception that I hear from numerous athletes, trainers, and doctors is, “I can’t do squats because they are bad for me.”  There are many myths about the squat.  I have heard everything from, “they are bad for your knees” to the notion that “they will make me a slower runner” all the way to the audacious statement that they are just flat out dangerous. This is entirely inaccurate.  Performing squats properly and on a regular basis will improve knee stability, strengthen and tighten the connective tissue around your knees.  Squats are actually safer and put less stress on your knees than machines that were thought to be safer for you.  This includes the leg extensions and smith machine squats. Here are some interesting facts about squats.

  1. Squats are a movement that people do every day.  Whether it is getting in and out of the car or rising from a chair, we squat every day.  It is a natural, functional movement.
  2. The overall best total body strength move is the squat.  It promotes more muscle growth across the whole body than any other movement. This is why it is referred to as the KING OF ALL EXERCISES!
  3. Leg strength is critical to maintaining strength and mobility as we get older.  Many people end up in nursing homes because they can’t get in and out of chairs or on and off a toilet.  If you are an elderly person and can still squat you won’t have a hard time getting out of bed or getting up from that chair.
  4. The benefits of squats are numerous and include: improving your running, sprinting, jumping, endurance, balance, flexibility, posture.  This single move can do all this PLUS prevent injury and provide a full body workout!
  5. Squats are the most primitive movement pattern known to man, people used to do their daily routine in a full squat position.  Go to many other countries, and you will find people eating dinner while squatting.  Think about it; you spend 280 days while in the womb in the fetal position, basically a full squat, and we don’t come out having any knee or back problems.
  6. Squats will not only help you build lean muscle mass but will in turn raise your basal metabolic rate and you will burn more calories throughout both the day and night.
  7. Squats make your whole body stronger.  This includes everything from your muscles, to connective tissue, to your bones. By performing squats you can increase mineral density which helps fight diseases such as osteoporosis.
  8. Performing squats produces endorphins in the body which are your body’s natural way to relieve pain.  This way you can help avoid the use of pain killers and NSAIDS for joint pain and other injuries.
  9. An important fact: perform squats with good technique.  Any exercise done improperly can lead to injury. Make sure you perform full range of motion.  These do not mean you squat like most people I see at the local “globo-gym”: don’t do partial squats, these can limit your range of motion and increase your risk of injury.  This means the hamstrings should hit the back of your calves at the bottom of the squat.
  10. Your general physical fitness and work capacity will be improved, mental and physical energy levels will raise, your body will experience improved hormone production and ultimately, get stronger, having a better looking physique, and improves your life wellness.

There are numerous studies out there explaining how squats will help any person whether it be a professional football player, a police officer, or even an soccer mom.  If you’re a marathon runner and want to improve your time or prevent injury, squat. If you’re a basketball player and you want to have a higher vertical jump, squat. If you just want to lose weight and look and feel better, squat.

We should all be squatting more, so find a coach who can teach you proper technique and get squatting!  Next time a trainer at your gym or your doctor or anybody for that matter says that squats are bad for you, just ask them why and let’s see what their excuse is.

Now go out and squat!

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