Swat up on squats!

Okay, this is definitely my last post tonight, there is such a thing as overkill. But I did promise a post on squats, so here it is.

Image courtesy of Zusana and Bodyrock.tv

Whether or not you’re taking part in my fitness challenge for the week or month, squats are an exercise that should not be ignored. There’s a little confusion as to whether full, deep squats are bad for you as opposed to 90-degree-angle squats known as half squats and that is because some trainers believe they put excess strain on your knees, potentially causing damage.

I do not agree. Why? Any exercise performed incorrectly will cause excess strain on your joints and cause damage. Done properly, any exercise will cause strain on your joints which your body then adapts to – so don’t sweat it and in the words of Nike: Just do it.

Benefits of full squats instead of half squats

  • Works the quadriceps (thigh muscles), gluteus maximus (your booty) and hamstrings primarily, as well as erector spinae (the long muscle on either side of your spine), transversus abdominae (your deep ab muscles), pelvic muscles (both medius and minimus) and soleus (a lower leg muscle) as secondary muscles
  • Infact, indirectly, they work your entire body – no other exercise compares in that sense!
  • Contraction of the quadriceps, the hamstrings, and the gastrocnemius maintains integrity around the knee joint. “What?!” – it basically means you’re helping preserve your knee joints
  • Squats help to release the most anabolic growth hormones and testosterone into your body so you’ll start to gain muscle in your upper body as well
  • They increase your balance

Not sure how to squat properly? Here is a great squat form video – that is a half squat but the same form applies to full squats, just go lower.

Whether you are a runner, body builder, Zumba enthusiast, football player, volleyball player and so on and so forth, squats are for you so what are you waiting for?
If you have a lower leg injury, be gentle with yourself and if you’re not sure you’re up to squats, don’t try them without seeking medical advice first!

Tips for correct squat form:

  • Do not look down: this is very important and extremely important if you have a weighted bar over your shoulders. The floor isn’t going to change colour so you don’t need to watch it.
  • Do not arch your back
  • Do not bring your knees in: you will put extreme pressure on the ACL and MCL (they’re ligaments in your knees)
  • Avoid allowing your knees to reach past your toes: this is a controversial one, most professionals say don’t ever, however I’d say try not to make a habit of it because it’s bad form.

Hope this helps everyone, particularly those doing my squat fitness challenge.


9 thoughts on “Swat up on squats!

  1. I’ve convinced my boyfriend to take on this challenge with me. His initial thought was quite skeptical… “are 30 squats a day really going to make a difference?” My response was “they will do more than if I wasn’t doing 30 squats a day.” To add to the challenge I put my 1-yr old daughter on my shoulders while I do them 🙂

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