The Squat, it’s for more than just your legs

A fitness training post by Nelson Bodnarchuk

Hi, I hope you’re kickn’ ass with your training, your own that is, and if you aren’t quite there yet you’ve come to the right place.

This post is dedicated to the squat.

Squatting is a natural, primal movement natural to humans. Children all do it, which means we all did it before we started sitting at a desk 6-8 hrs a day in school that is. Did you know that many societies outside of Western culture incorporate squats in adult life? I know there’s a group of your reading this out there that are thinking “but Nelson squatting below parallel is bad for your knees, all my text books say so! And my clients with bad knees can’t do it.” Well, if squatting below parallel was truly bad for the knees, we’d see entire villages of people in Asia using crutches or wheelchairs. Guess what…we don’t! Again, I am all for safety, and by all means if you or someone you know can’t bend their knee past a parallel due to an injury then don’t do it, the last thing I want is someone going out there and hurting themselves because of a lack of common sense. My beef is with the school of thought that no one should bend the knee past parallel because it’s the cause of a knee injury… I call Bullsh!t. Here’s why:

Cultures that squat tend to have strong and healthy knees, ankles and hips, as well as lower obesity rates than North Americans. See my Body Becomes its Function post for more on why I believe that squatting past the knees is a good thing, when done correctly of course.

But Nelson why should I squat? It’s too hard…I’m worried that I’ll get too thick in the mid-section…I can’t squat 600 lbs so what’s the point?

These are only a few of the excuses that I’ve heard over the past several years when discussing squats, keep in mind that technique counts more than resistance in all cases. Here are just a few reasons to start doing squats today:

  • Squatting burns a huge amount of calories for fat loss, helping you to achieve your physical goals regardless of what those may be. Squats will help develop power for basic muscular improvement and athletic performance. Squats are a classic mass builder for and athlete looking to build strong, sleek and well defined legs that don’t ever quit.
  • Squats work more than just your legs. Squats are one of the best total body exercises you can do, with little to no equipment or space. Squats work your abs, hips and butt. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or girl Squats should be part of the foundation of your fitness regime, regardless of your age.
  • Squats are versatile, with dozens of variations you experiment with. In my not so humble opinion Bodyweight only squats are the best type of squat. For the more advanced trainee there one legged squats to increase difficulty exponentially. Feel free to also throw in the odd barbell squat, kettlebell squat, or playing with your kids in the back yard squat ;)

So what does “below parallel” really mean? I’m glad you asked, here’s a great way to find out:

  • Lie down and arch your lower back
  • Put your hands in the curve of your lower back
  • Have a partner hold your insteps and give you a little resistance as you use your hip flexors to pull your knees toward your armpits
  • Stop before your tailbone lifts off the ground
  • After you have done a few reps lying down, stand up and perform the same movement

There you go! you just did what my three-year-old does every day… a full body-weight squat.

New to squatting? Start working it into your daily routine today by incorporating the 3-5 rule: 3-5 sets of…3-5 reps with…3-5 days per week

Using the 3-5 rule is a great way to work new movements into your routine without totally changing it up. It’s low-volume, high frequency and will help you to learn the technique behind the movement. It also helps to ensure that your mind and body are strong before increasing the degree of difficulty of a movement in your routine. Use different kinds of squats, as mentioned above, when you’re looking to shake things up a bit, for example: one day of prisoner squats, a second day of Kettlebell sumo squats and a third day of dumbbell over-head squats.

Thanks again for visiting be sure to let me know what you think of this post and your favourite type of squat.

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