Squats are a great exercise that are completely functional, and mirror a movement we frequently do in our day-to-day routine. Think about all the times you sit then stand, or bend down (hopefully not over) to pick something up. You’re squatting. It’s really important that, throughout our lives, the muscles and joints stay in decent enough shape that allow us to do this with ease. As we get older, joints start to creak and muscles ache a little faster…all the more reason to keep your body in motion. “Use it or lose it” applies here to all people with healthy joints
Three reasons I love this exercise is because:
- squats strengthen your glutes and thighs, but also your lower back and abdominal muscles
- when performed properly, they improve stability of the hip, knee and ankle (Escamilla, 2001)
- you can do them anywhere, anytime – no equipment needed at all
This list could really go on and on, from boosting metabolism to increasing caloric burn and everything in between. Think you have strong enough glutes and quads? Try a squat test tonight and see how you do. Continue doing some form of squats regularly (3 to 5 times a week), then test yourself again in two weeks. Hopefully you’ll notice a difference in the amount of time you can squat (muscular endurance). Below are a couple tests you can try out. Let me know how you do!
Wall Squat Test
This has been built into a few of my workouts. I like it because it provides wall stability, ensuring your back will remain straight, but definitely works the legs – to say the least!
Leaning up against a wall, walk your feet out about a foot. Drop down into a seated position. Try to get to the point where your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your hips should be in line with your knees. Try to hold for a minimum of 30 seconds. As you creep toward 45, you’re doing well. Moving into a minute – not bad! As you edge toward 90 seconds, you’re practically a rock star. Hold as long as you can.
Body Weight Squat
This is great way to start doing squats, or to build up muscular endurance the exercise in general. If you’ve never done squats, or if it’s been a while, start with these before you graduate to adding weights. These are still butt-kickers, especially is you do the test below.
With your arms extended out in front of you, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Drop down into a seated position keeping your knees right over your toes. Stand back up. Not too hard, right? Now try 100 of these, maintaining the same for. Go down for one second, and up for one second, continue repeating with no pause until you’re done.
Reminders: Keep your back as straight as possible (pull your shoulder blades back). You don’t want to fold over your legs. This will stress your knees too much. The weight should be in your hips. Don’t let your toes point out – keep them pointing straight ahead.
Escamilla, R., (2001). Knee biomechanics of the dynamic squat exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 127-141