Squats are hard work. And they’re scary – especially when you get beyond 3 plates!
Which is probably why so many guys look for excuses not to do them. Funny thing is those guys all have one thing in common . . .
You don’t want to be one of those guys. Which is why you’ve got to squat heavy and often, even if you hate squats.
Yet, the squat is the most avoided exercise in history, so if there is any movement that we all need some extra motivation for, this is it!
Well, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we reveal 10 undeniable, scientific benefits of squatting, along with some essential hacks to get more out of your time under the bar.
We’ve also got some awesome squat related quotes to get you super pumped for leg day (my favorite is from the King of Quads, Tom Platz!).
10 Awesome Squat Benefits
You already know squats are a great muscle-building lower body exercise.
But if you don’t know that the benefits go far beyond that… well, you don’t know squat.
1. Squats Create Butts
It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl, you need a strong, shapely butt.
Otherwise known as the glutes, your butt is the largest muscle in your body.
A lot of the power of your body comes out of your butt, especially when it comes to the lower body.
Your glutes also play a big part in the balance of your body. If they are underdeveloped and weak in comparison to surrounding muscles, your gait, movement pattern and proprioception will all be affected.
Squats will make your butt firmer, more powerful and more biomechanically efficient.
2. Quad Strength and Size
The quadriceps is a four headed muscle, consisting of the vastus lateralis (the outer part of the quads), the rectus femoris (the middle part) and the vastus medialis (the teardrop shaped muscle above the knee), all of which are visible muscles, along with the vastus intermedius, which lies beneath the other three and is not visible.
The squat directly stimulates all four of the heads of the quadriceps.
At the same time that the squat is developing the individual quad muscles, it is also increasing your overall thigh strength.
That will make you a more powerful on the field athlete and provide you with the power base to handle your daily challenges.
3. Core Strength
You probably don’t think of squats as a core exercise.
Yet, studies have shown that they are more effective than the plank or any number of other ‘go to’ core movements when it comes to strengthening the mid section.
In fact, a 2018 study showed that the squat activated the erector spinae muscles at the back of your core four times more than the plank. The erector spinae holds you upright while squatting, preventing your body from falling forward.
Keeping your stomach tight during the squat will activate the rectus abdominis.
The exercise also works the transverse abdominis, along with the external and internal obliques.
So, rather than spending your time on a whole lot of isolated core exercises, all you really need to do it squat.
4. Bone and Joint Strength
Research reveals that heavy weight training exercise, where you use 80 percent or more of your one rep maximum, helps to build bone density and strength.
Well, weight training exercises don’t come any more hardcore than squats, which makes it an excellent move to strengthen your bones and joints.
In one study, which was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the bone density of a group of older women was tested prior to them doing a 12 week squat workout.
The workout involved a heavy weight that allowed for just 5 reps per set. At the end of the 12 weeks, the bone density of all of the women was significantly increased, as were their markers for bone growth.
5. Calorie Burn
The squat is an awesome calorie burner.
Even though you are just sitting down and standing up again, this exercise definitely takes it out of you.
When you pack some serious weight on the bar and then rep out, you are going to end up puffing like a steam engine.
But if you really want to ramp up the calorie burn, drop the weight back a little to pump out 5 sets of 20 reps, with just a 60 second rest between sets.
Squats not only burn a ton of calories while you’re doing then, they also ramp up your metabolism for as much as 24 hours after your leg workout is over.
This is thanks to an effect known as enhanced post exercise oxygen consumption (epoc).
6. Hormone Boost
The two most important anabolic (muscle building) hormones in your body are testosterone and human growth hormone.
A number of studies confirm that, while resistance training in general boosts anabolic hormone production, squats does it more effectively than any other exercise.
Researchers are not quite sure why this is the case but believe it may be because squats create more stress within the body than any other exercise.
7. Enhance Jump Height
Squatting will help you to jump higher. There are three ways it does so:
- It helps you to improve your rate of force development (explosive strength)
- It helps you develop a lot of force at one time
- It helps you to improve your tendon strength
There are a number of studies that confirm that squats are one of the best things you can do to improve your jumping height.
One of them, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, tested the jump height of participants before and after they engaged in an 8 week squat workout.
The average jump height increase was 12.4 percent. Interestingly, the squat group was able to jump 3.5 percent higher than another group who were doing the leg press instead of the squat.
8. Mental Fortitude
Every time leg day rolls around, you get that slightly nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach.
The time has come again to challenge yourself as only cold steel can. But you know that you will rise to the occasion, stare down that bar and defeat it.
In doing so, you are achieving more than building your body. You are also building your mind. You develop resilience, determination, courage and grit.
Those character traits don’t come as a side benefit from any other exercise!
When you come to conquer your fear of squats, you develop a greater level of self esteem and confidence. You come to appreciate that, if you can beat the heavy iron, then you take on any other challenge, whether it’s a job interview, a speech or a bungee jump!
9. Improved Flexibility
Squats are a great way to improve your flexibility and elasticity, especially when you perform full range of motion, deep squats.
This will help to offset the flexibility killing effects of old age. It will also make you more agile for a range of sports applications.
And, of course, the more flexible you are the less likely you are to suffer falls and injury
10. Hamstring Strength
Squats directly stimulate the hamstrings, allowing you to develop those muscles and increase their strength. Many people have weakened hamstrings.
This often leads to pulls or tears in the muscle due to imbalances with quad strength. Regular squatting will help to balance the strength between the front and back of your upper legs.
Strengthening the hamstrings through squatting will also improve your jumping height.
6 Squat Quotes to Get You Psyched for Squatting & Leg Day
Need a little more motivation?
Check out these squat quotes and you’ll be itching to get back under the bar again.
I used to like putting a little space between plates on the bar. They’d jingle when I came up out of a squat, making a deep-throated roar. The old 45s were the best.
The sound would pass through my spine and ears. It was like a car engine revving up. It would help me time my movement. A cue to go down for the next rep.
The squat is the perfect analogy for life. it’s about standing back up after something heavy takes you down.
Down the road, in a gym far away, A young man was heard to say: No matter what I do, my legs won’t grow! He tried leg extensions, leg curls, leg presses too.
Trying to cheat, these sissy workouts he’d do! From the corner of the gym where the big guy’s train. Through a cloud of chalk and the midst of pain.
Where the big iron rides high and threatens lives. Where the noise is made with big forty fives. A deep voice bellowed as he wrapped his knees. A very big man with legs like trees. Laughing as he snatched another plate from the stack, chalked his hands and monstrous back.
Said: Boy, stop lying and don’t say you’ve forgotten! The trouble with you is you ain’t been SQUATTIN!
Jeff MADDOG Madden
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but squats will make me a bada$$.
I wouldn’t tell somebody that they weren’t a powerlifter because they only bench pressed, or they only bench pressed and deadlifted, but, what the hell is wrong with squatting?
What are you, afraid? I thought powerlifters were supposed to be big, tough guys. Strap your **** on, leave your p*ssy at home, put a bar on your back and bend your knees!
If your family was captured and you were told you needed to put 100 pounds onto your max squat within two months or your family would be executed, would you squat once per week?
Something tells me that you’d start squatting every day.
Avoiding Spinal Problems When Squatting
While you’re feeling pumped and motivated for your next squat workout, a quick word of caution:
People frequently get injured during squats because they don’t practice proper form and they go too heavy too soon.
A very common mistake that is damaging to the spine while squatting is lifting the heel off the ground while squatting.
Raised heel weightlifting shoes will prevent this problem from occurring. Another common issue involves too much hip flexion when descending.
Upper back rounding, where the spine breaks neutral, is another common problem.
To correct these issues, you need to think about making the knees and hips do the same amount of bend. Keep the spine completely neutral throughout.
Practice squatting with nothing but a medicine ball held at chest level until you get this form just right. Remember to keep your heels planted (push through the heels), your spine neutral and your hips not dominating the movement.
Another common squatting problem involves the knees collapsing during the movement. What you need to do is to line your knees up with your toes.
This is a great way to keep your knees healthy while coming down into a deep squat.
There’s no getting around it – if you want to be serious about lifting weights, you have got to squat.
Every week, you will have to summon up the motivation to put yourself under the heavy iron and rep out until your quads are screaming for relief.
In this article, we’ve provided you with 10 great reasons why going through that leg day pain makes so much sense, along with some great quotes from some of the best squatters who ever walked into a gym.
Bookmark this page and use it each week on leg day to refuel your motivation to ace your squat workout.
(Before you go, check out these guides to bench press motivation and cardio motivation while you’re at it.)
Hope this helps!