As far as function, popular, basic, yet incredibly beneficial exercises are concerned, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more popular exercise than the humble squat. Squats have been performed for decades upon decades and remain largely unchanged, which is testament to the old saying that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. With people talking about “squat booties” and such like, squats are now far more mainstream than they have been in recent years, but that doesn’t make them any more, or any less, efficient. Whilst squat are predominantly considered a lower body exercise, recent research has found that in actual fact, the squat exercise could help people to pile on lean and powerful muscle mass all over their bodies, not just on their legs and glutes. Here we’ll be taking a look at exactly how the squats exercise is able to do this, plus we’ll be listing several other benefits associated with the squat exercise so that by the time you’ve finished reading, you may find yourself looking for ways of incorporating more squats into your weekly workout routine.
Squats help produce muscle building hormones
As squats are arguably the most effective compound exercise currently available, experts decided to look into them more closely, and what they found was very promising indeed. Studies found that squats, particularly barbell squats or heavy , actually stimulated the secretion of increased amounts of testosterone and growth hormone, both of which play vital roles in the growth and development of muscle tissue. When performing squats, you work some of the largest muscle groups in your entire body, and so the body really has to work hard and dig deep. To assist with repair and recovery, it produces an increased amount of both testosterone, and growth hormone, which basically turns your body into a muscle building machine.
Nowadays, thanks to the popularity of Crossfit, functional strength and fitness is now more relevant than ever before, and the great news about squats is that they’re considered one of the most functional exercises you could ever wish for. The squat exercise is basic, yet it is fully functional because if you think about how many times we mimic the action during the day, it makes perfect sense. When we sit down, before we sit down, we squat to get into position. When we tie our laces, we squat down beforehand, just as we squat down to pick objects up off the ground. Put simply, you’re far more likely to benefit, from a functional standpoint, from squats during your day to day life than you are from an exercise such as the triceps kickback for example.
They burn more body fat
Another great benefit of squats is the fact that they’ve been proven to burn more body fat, especially when you take less rest between sets. This is because not only are they compound exercises and so require more effort during each rep, but as they also help build more muscle, studies have found that the more muscle an individual has, the faster their metabolism will be and the more body fat they will burn off as a result. Just to put this into perspective, for every pound of lean muscle mass that you gain, your body will burn an average of around 50 – 70 calories each day. That may not sound that impressive but if you gain 10 pounds of lean muscle over the course of a few years, you will then be burned off an extra 500 – 700 calories each and every day, which all of a sudden seems much more appealing.
They’re great for the core
Another great benefits of the squat exercise is that it has been proven to be fantastic for your core, which is part of the reason why it’s such a functional exercise. With each rep during a squat, your core stabilizer muscles are forced to work to help support your back and to keep you upright in order to execute the exercise effectively. Over time, your core strength will begin to improve which will help keep visceral body fat at bay, will help improve your abs, will help make you stronger in other exercises, will help protect you from other injuries, and will help make you more functional on the whole.
They’re great for generating explosive speed
For athletes who perform a lot of sprinting and jumping, the squat exercise is ideal as it helps to generate explosive speed. Whilst performing squats, many more of your fast-twitch muscle fibers will be incorporated and strengthened during each exercise. These fast-twitch muscle fibres are so beneficial because they’re responsible for allowing us to generate explosive speed and movements, such as those performed during sprints or whilst jumping. On top of that, the exercise helps to promote hip extension strength which again allows for more impressive explosive movements, particularly with vertical leaps. There’s also the added bonus that not only do you generate more power, you can also absorb more as well, so your joints will be better protected and you’ll be less likely to suffer from injury.