STRENGTH – Part Four
‘Good things come to those who squat’
Possibly one of the best places to start when discussing the benefits of squats is in Asian culture. If you have ever travelled through the countries in South East Asia, you will have probably noticed that a majority of the population in these countries rest in a squatted position.
Non-coincidently, the subject of squatting and Asian culture offers a beneficial connection that extends beyond general functionality as performing the fundamental squat movement promotes the following significant health benefits.
Unlike our counterparts in South East Asia, when we work and rest, we generally sit in a chair or seat. To our detriment, when we sit all day, whether it’s at work or driving in your car, the mobility in our hips greatly diminishes.
Left unattended, the hips continually tighten, we lose our range of motion and, as we age, our overall mobility begins to suffer.
This tightness actually extends into the internal organs to places pressure on the pelvic floor and, even making the daily number two a tougher operation then we might realize.
Proper squat technique, and the warm up preparation required to perform a squat, helps decrease the effects of tight hips. It also aids in mobilizing the region and relieves pressure off the internal organs.
In fact, squatting while conducting a number two actually makes the process much easier; as the pressure released on the regions organs, the work flow becomes much easier because of a more streamlined process.
While squats are commonly regarded as a leg exercise, the residual effect that the movement has on the remainder of your body is astounding.
Because it also remains one of the best core strengthening exercises available, it could easily be regarded as the ‘go to’ move for flattening your tummy.
The core strengthening associated with the squat also has the added effect fortifying your spine because tightly braces the stabilizing muscles throughout the movement.
When performed safe and efficiently, the squat, not only helps mobilize the hips but, promotes better spinal alignment and reduces pressure off the vertebrae to relieve pain.
‘Full body movements’ like the squat actively recruit more muscle fibres throughout the body when compared to isolated movements like bicep curls.
In terms of caloric expenditure; because more muscle fibres are recruited in the movement, the exercise generally translates into more energy being used by the body. This simply equates to more fat being burned during the exercise.
To increase this fat burning effect, full body exercises assist in building lean muscle throughout the body, making the squats one of the most efficient ‘Fat Burners’ on the market.
Squats sit at the very top of the Fundamental movement skills family tree. These skills are essentially movement patterns which are associated with the actions of various body parts and joints that provide our basis for physical literacy.
Fundamental movement skills are the foundational movements, or precursor patterns, that are regularly utilized in our everyday activities.
Using the gym as our own self improvement tool, we can practice and develop these movement patterns in a safe and controlled environment. This is important because it enables you to conduct daily movements more efficiently.
When you begin to add weights, like barbells and dumbbells, the movement pattern gradually strengthens your body enough to translate into sturdier movement patterns in everyday life. E.g. activities like climbing stairs and picking up children off the ground becomes much easier.
When assessing the squat as a movement, we must focus on the main muscle groups that are being engaged during the exercise. While you might assume that the legs are doing the majority of the work, it is in fact the butt, or gluteus, muscles that actually generate the majority of force to drive the movement.
Because of this, the squat instantly becomes one of the most effective butt strength and toning exercises available. Not only will the squat help shape and tone your ‘backside’ but it will also help you fight the severe effects of gravity as well. E.g. it will help strengthen and tone your legs but lift your butt in the process.
For beginners, use a chair to squat down onto while
learning a safe movement pattern.
Whether you’ve been leading a mostly active or sedentary lifestyle, chances are that you or someone you know has experienced an exercise-related injury.
It’s safe to say that most gym-goers have encountered the dreaded feeling of gym intimidation at some point in their life. For some people, overcoming anxiety about the gym may be harder than the workout itself!