Squats. They’re probably the most important functional strength movement you can do. Think about it—the muscles you use to squat are the same muscles you use to sit down and stand back up, several times each day.
While the squat exercise itself is pretty basic, the benefits of squats are numerous and varied. Let’s make sure you know how to squat properly, and then we’ll explore the benefits of squats. When we’re done, you’ll surely be convinced to add squats to your workout routine, starting today.
How Do I Squat Properly?
The basic squat, also known as the air squat, is easy. Fitness pro Bobby Maximus breaks it down in three simple steps:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, keeping a proud chest and upright body.
Sit down, as though you’re sitting on a chair, until you reach a parallel depth.
Thrust your hips forward and stand up.
We recommend watching Bobby's demonstration "How to Air Squat" to ensure you practice proper form.
Now that you know how to squat, there are quite a few reasons you’ll want to do it. Here’s why squat exercises are so important.
Benefits of Squats
Lower body strength.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out—just try a few squats and you’ll feel them working nearly every muscle in your lower body. And because squatting is a functional, machine-free movement that mimics going from standing to sitting and back, you’ll work both sides of your body equally and improve your overall stability.
Core and upper body strength.
Your legs and glutes aren’t the only muscles that go to work when you squat. To keep proper form, your core and back muscles need to kick in, helping hold your chest up, spine straight, and shoulders back and down.
If you’re new to squats, you may find it tough to get all the way down to parallel at first. But as you practice—and even as you progress through multiple sets in the same workout—you’ll probably notice your hips opening up a bit more. Squatting helps improve the range of motion in your hips, which is critical to sports and daily activities alike.
Quick calorie burn.
Happy, healthy joints.
Squats work the trifecta of lower body joints: hips, knees, and ankles. The more you exercise these joints, the stronger and more supported they will be—giving you a better chance to stay in the sporting game for a good long time.
Better bone strength.
Any weight-bearing exercise helps build and maintain bone density—and squats are no exception. Get in the habit of doing squat workouts when you’re young and keep them going as you age to develop strong muscles and bones.
A regular squatting routine will strengthen your lower body, which in turn will improve your ability to jump and accelerate. If speed and jumping are important in your sport—think soccer, tennis, track and field events, basketball, and more—squats should be part of your training regimen.
Reduced injury risk.
A strong physical foundation helps keep injuries at bay. Squats help develop important stabilizing muscles like the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The stronger and more stable your body is, the better you’ll be able to handle the demands you place on it, both on and off the court.
Heavy resistance training is known to help naturally boost testosterone. Testosterone in men impacts everything from muscle mass to libido. If you’re looking to maintain a high testosterone level in a healthy way, try squats with added weight.
Improved everyday activities.
Sitting, standing, picking up your child or your groceries—so many day-to-day activities include the same movements as squats. The more you focus on squat exercises as a part of your workout routine, the stronger you’ll be—and the less at risk of injury—in your daily routine.
Versatile and convenient.
You can practice bodyweight squats anywhere—at home, at the gym, at the beach, in your office, in an airport, or even on a boat. Not only are squats one of the most important exercises you can do, they’re one of the most versatile. And if you think squats are boring, think again. There are endless variations on the basic squat, plus plenty of different ways to add weight and up the degree of difficulty if you reach a training plateau.
Now that you’ve mastered the basic squat and understand why squats are a muscle-building must, it’s time to get to work. And fortunately, wherever you are, you can always squat!