At your local gym, there's most likely a rack. It's probably a bit dusty and lonely from the lack of use. Occasionally some bros will curl in it.
These are sad times. With the current obsession with functional training, functional being balancing on a bosu ball and doing pump and squeeze curls with 4kg dumbbells to really tax your 'core', it is a tragedy that a far more effective and legitimately functional exercise is often forgotten in most commercial gyms. Ladies (because men would already know this), I present to you. THE SQUAT!
Here are 10 reasons why you should never forgo the squat being an integral part of any workout program!
- AESTHETICS DON'T BEGIN AT THE WAIST UP
Human aesthetics, like most things, can be governed by maths. We call it, 'the golden ratio'. The golden ratio dictates the proportions of the human body that are most aesthetically pleasing and is what artists and sculptors have used to create their works. To this day it is even used by medical staff for body reconstruction. The golden ratio is why an X shaped physique for men (not a V on pencils) and an hourglass shaped physique for women are the most desirable physiques.
This ratio is normally 1:1.618 and this appears all over your body, by far the most visible one is shoulder to waist, or 'v-taper' as it's known. What does this have to do with squats? For the golden ratio to apply to your legs, we compare the size of your knee bone to your thigh. The thigh should be 175% of the knee bone diameter. This alone should be enough of a reason for you to give up on the notion of fitting into your sister's skinny jeans.
- SQUATTING IS ONE OF THE MOST PRIMITIVE MOVEMENTS KNOWN TO MAN
Since the dawn of time squatting has been one of the most natural movements for humans, to lift, to grab, to sit on the toilet, it's a natural movement that you do every single day. Having a weak posterior chain (the muscles responsible for squatting) is a great way to injure yourself later in life. Not only are hip based injuries incredibly common in the elderly, it could all be prevented by a healthy diet of squats. An interesting and related note is that heavy weight training is a great aid for preventing an early onset of osteoporosis from the increased bone density.
- SQUATTING TRAINS THE WHOLE BODY
“I just want big arms man, chest and bis all day ery' day"
In reference to the golden ratio above, not only do you look ridiculous with the legs of an emaciated chicken, but squats train the whole body. Under a heavy squat there is not one muscle in the entire body that is not under tension maintaining stability.
- ONE OF THE FEW EXERCISES THAT YOU CANNOT EVER SUBSTITUTE WITH MACHINES
Yes leg press is easier, yes leg curls may make you 'feel' it more in your quads. But neither of these train the entire posterior chain in quite the same way that squats do. Not only do these isolation movements take individual muscles out of the kinetic chain, they also train them in ways that they're not intended to be used. It would also take a good 6-10 machines depending on how well equipped your gym is to even isolate the amount of muscles that a squat recruits. Think of it like a football team that had never played together vs one that practices together the whole time, the one that plays together will have a huge advantage in both coordination and functionality!
- IT'S EFFICIENT
In point 4 I mentioned that you would need 6-10 machines to replicate the squat, this is incredibly time consuming over doing a few sets of squats. There is also the fact that in this day and age of bosu ball curls and endless variations of crunches, we're missing one of the most functional and useful exercises for core stability. Nothing builds a good set of abdominal/lumbar musculature like heavy squats and nothing more so in a functional way to operate under a compressive load. So ditch the 15 mins of crunch variations and get squatting.
- YOUR GENERAL FITNESS ACROSS THE BOARD WILL IMPROVE!
A stronger muscle can produce more force, this means that basic movements such as running use far less of your maximal effort. This in turn leads to a large increase in performance correlating with the strength of your legs. The muscles that benefit from squatting make this applicable to pretty much every sport under the sun.
- MENTAL DETERMINATION
To squat close to your maximum, it requires a certain amount of mental will power, a bit of emotion and perhaps a bit of insanity. Squats are difficult, people don't like doing difficult things, pushing through difficult things not only teaches you work ethic but it also carries over into many aspects of life. I mean, why do squats when you can just go to the gym, do your curls and leave just as skinny and unimpressive as you were when you came in?
- IT WILL BENEFIT EVERY OTHER LIFT, EVEN YOUR BENCH PRESS
Your legs make up 50% of your body. Movements such as bench press and overhead press largely rely on stability for maximal force production (and the biggest weights lifted). If HALF, note, the half that often gets 1 day a week of training from the people who actually bother to train it, the half that gets ignored by the large majority of trainees. Yes if HALF of your body is small, weak and untrained, then half of your body is not going to be anywhere near as stable as it should be. This will limit your stability and limit your lifts regardless of how strong your upper body is.
- IT TURNS HEADS AND LOOKS BADASS TO SQUAT HEAVY
Now get squatting!