Squats are a mainstay in just about every program for trainers and athletes. The move has a variety of benefits for every body, no matter where you are in your fitness endeavors. The strength, power, flexibility and balance that can be gained from squats should make this exercise a staple in any routine.
The variations of squats allow for us to perform the move every day, allowing for proper recovery between workouts and won't lead to burnout. The exercise can help us meet any goal, including a faster sprint and leaner legs!
Here are just a few reasons why we should be performing squats everyday:
1. Increase strength and power.
Squats build strength and power in glutes, hamstrings and quads, which are primarily stabilizers when moving on the field. The move also improves hip extension power, which is essential to increase vertical jump. Squats stimulate muscle-building hormones, which strengthen the entire body. Weighted squats will challenge the body to overcome a force and reap the anabolic benefits.
2. Get major definition in the legs and butt.
Squats target the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. The basic movement is a fast way to build lean muscle, which results in tight, toned limbs. We know it's a myth that you'll "bulk up" by lifting weights, so don't be afraid to squat a challenging weight.
3. Improve mobility in hips and ankles.
Body-weight squats are a great way to increase range of motion in hips and ankles, which will help reduce lower back and knee pain. It's a safe and effective way to improve mobility without taxing the joints.
4. Strengthen and tone the core.
Performing weighted squats challenges the core to stabilize the body throughout the entire range of motion. The transverse and rectus abominus are deeply engaged the entire time, resulting in a stronger, flatter stomach! A strong, solid core will also help prevent the risk of injury.
5. Improve posture.
Whether you're performing a weighted or body weight squat, you'll be engaging the upper back (lower/upper trapezius and rhomboids) to help stabilize the body through the movement. This strengthens the muscles responsible for proper posture.
Convinced? Here are four squat variations to up your strength and power game in no time!
Holding a medicine ball, kettle bell or dumbbell in front of your chest, draw shoulder blades together and lift your chest. Stand with feet hip-width apart and deeply bend knees, shift hips back and lower down until thighs are parallel to the ground. Drive through the balls of your feet to come all the way back to standing, keeping core engaged the entire time. Perform three sets of 10 reps with 30-seconds of rest between sets.
Single Leg Squat
Place all your weight on your right foot while you lift your left leg off the ground and bend the left knee. Extend both arms up and out in front of you, level with shoulders. Deeply bend your right knee, shift hips back and lower down until your right knee comes close to parallel with the ground. Keep your chest lifted the entire time. Then press through the ball of your right foot to return to standing. Repeat at a controlled pace. Perform three sets of 15 reps on each side with 30 seconds of rest between sets.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and lift arms overhead to frame the ears. Draw shoulders down and lift your chest. Deeply bend both knees and lower down until thighs come close to parallel with the ground. Stay low, keeping hips back and knees behind toes. Hold this position for one minute.
Bring feet and knees together. Swing arms back by your sides and lift chest. Deeply bend both knees and lower down until thighs are close to parallel with the ground. From this position, pulse up and down, lifting up an inch then back down an inch. Pulse for one minute.