The Big 6 Breakdown Series: The Squat
The squat is one of the most recognized movements in fitness and for good reason. The squat has multiple benefits aside from just getting your legs strong.
At Resilient Fitness (RF), we incorporate squats in almost every workout, even if it’s a push/pull or hinge day. This is because squats can not only build lower body strength but they can also:
improve core strength
Like the hinge, the squat targets primarily the lower body and posterior chain (the muscle groups on the backside of your body).
In order to perform a squat, the knees must both flex and extend. The knee joint is composed of the end of the femur and the head of the tibia and is held together by ligaments. Muscles attach to the bones via tendons and depending on which muscle is pulling on the bone, the knee will either flex or extend.
The muscles that control the knee joint are the same muscles that are targeted when performing a squat– the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and calves. These lower extremity muscles must work together in tandem in order to perform the squat.
In addition to targeting and strengthening the leg muscles, the squat also promotes mobility, stability, and core strength.
Mobility is the ability to move the joint through its full range of motion (ROM).
Bodyweight or goblet squats are an easily accessible way to initially train the squat through a full ROM.
Stability is when the body is able to support the joint through its ROM by contracting the muscles around the joint.
So, for example, when we are doing barbell back squats, we are relying on the mobility of the joint to move through the entire ROM and the contractions of the posterior chain and core muscles to keep the joint and trunk stable throughout the movement. The more often squats are performed, the better mobility and stability the legs, glutes, and core will have.
Lastly, squats are an integral part of functional fitness. Most people squat every day without realizing it; from picking up items from the ground to sitting down in a chair, squatting is a necessity in daily life.
Thus, training squats consistently is important in maintaining strength, mobility, and stability in life outside of the gym.
Moreover, it’s important to train squat variations because all squats are not created equal. The barbell back squat, for example, is a load-bearing movement that helps with overall strength and stability. The anterior loaded front squat changes the angle of the load, so the body has to work different muscles in order to maintain stability and balance. Jump squats can help train the cardiovascular system while goblet squats can mimic picking up items from the ground.
Squats are one of the most commonly used movements both in and out of the gym. It’s because of this that we try to program at least one squat variation in each workout. So, next time you see squats on the program, remember all the benefits of squatting! It’s just one more way we are working to keep all our members strong for life.
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