“There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that provides the level of central nervous activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat.” -Mark Rippetoe
That’s it. Ladies and Gentleman; girls and boys; yoga pants and cut off t’s….that’s it. I am done with my second post.
Ok no I’m not. I wish it was that easy. Despite this, people still don’t squat nor do they do it correctly (ok some do). You know what I’m talking about; you walk it the gym, rec center, AC whatever. You see another dude walk in like, “wad up, I’ve got a big male chicken.” Go straight to the squat rack and do a PERFECT 3/4ths squat….or “quad raise” and walk away calling it leg day. If you see this, stop whatever you’re doing and go kick him as hard as you can in the nuts……I give you permission.
OK enough of my silliness and let’s get down to the nitty gritty; Squats. In today’s post I’m going to cover the benefits of performing a full, correct ATG (ass to grass) squat. Today is a short, general post about the squat. Saturday I will go move in depth (pun absolutely intended) and discuss the movement, point out common issues, provide corrective exercises and give you some exercises that will not only aid in strengthening the squat but strengthening the whole body as well. Later this month, I will go further in depth (get low!) over the muscle actions in the squat movement. You’ll get to see my nerd side in full blossom…..ok that was nerdy.
When someone asks me what are the benefits of ATG squatting (squatting to where your’ hip joint is lower than your knees). I give them this copy pasta list of great benefits.
1. Improved functional flexibility.
2. Improved joint elasticity.
3. Better mechanical work.
4. More even distribution of force throughout all joints involved.
5. Greater range of motion which causes more work per rep, which causes more even muscle growth and strength throughout a greater range.
6. Greater midsection strength because greater control is needed for a lower position.
7. Better balance.
8. Makes you stronger in the lower ranges which allows you to be even stronger in the partial ranges.
In general, when performed correctly, the squat can give you these benefits plus more. To summarize: ladies, the squat is not only the best overall exercise to “tone and firm” up your’ butt, thighs and core, it will increase hip flexibility and function. Guys, the squat, in my opinion, are one of the best mass gainers out there (top 5 include: squat, deadlifts, power cleans, push press and incline). Furthermore, it has been shown that heavy resistance exercise protocols increases serum testosterone levels.
In a study performed with an exercise protocol utilizing a 10 RM load and 1-min rest periods, males demonstrated significant increases above rest values from post exercise values in serum testosterone, and all serum concentrations were greater than corresponding female values; however, females exhibited significantly higher pre-exercise human growth hormone levels compared to the males . This is due to a few physiological reasons that will be discussed in a later post. However; the point I want to focus on is the fact of an increase in serum test. As we may know, an activation of muscle tissue increases testosterone synthesis. And we can figure out that a rapid increase of muscle activation due to higher load stressors can further increase this test release during recovery. And where is the greatest ratio of muscle fiber to the rest of bodily mass? The gluteus, hamstrings and quads. So we can assume (only assume) that during this study performed, activation of the lower body was performed. However we can only speculate.
Can anyone think of any type of programming that should NOT involve a squat motion (disregard the disabled and injured)? The chances are there will be probably close to no type of programming that would exclude a squat motion. The squat motion itself is a very common, functional movement. From picking something from the ground to sitting in a chair, the squat is the foundation for these movements. So why neglect the squat from your’ training? If you are, try to implement more squats slowly until the movement becomes comfortable then move on to more complex endeavors. If you are already at that point, let’s try to focus on hip, knee and ankle flexibility and midline strength. If you are the few who can perform a correct full squat, let’s crank it up to the next level and focus on strength and power output per rep.
The squat motion overall benefits everybody to some degree; however, you slappies are already at a higher exercise level than most of the population. So we can agree that we require a more complex stimulation for better body adaptations because of this. Performing a correct, full squat is one of those complex stimulation exercises. So don’t be afraid of the squat rack, step away from the God damn smith machine, and get that ass low and move some weight! Saturday I will discuss the movement, point out common issues, provide corrective exercises and give you some exercises that will not only aid in strengthening the squat but strengthening the whole body as well. Thursday I will cover nitric oxide (NO) and L-arginine supplementation.
Consistency creates habit; meritocracy creates failure; consistent meritocracy creates failing habits.
 Kraemer, W., Gordan, S., & Fleck, S., et. Al. (1991). Endogenous anabolic hormonal and growth factor responses to heavy resistance exercise in males and females. Internation Journal of Sports Medicine, 12(2), 228-35.