By Ally Siegel
If there were one compound exercise discipline that we could recommend to everyone, that could be done without equipment and gives you whole-body benefits, it would be squats.
A lot of people presume that squats only work the lower body and consign it to those dreaded leg-days. They couldn’t be farther away from the truth – squats positively impacts your whole body, by toning it and getting rid of subcutaneous fat.
And the best part about squats is that they can be done anywhere and even when you’re traveling. You actually don’t need any equipment to do bodyweight squats. Let’s take a look at why you should be doing squats every day.
Why you should squat
While there are a lot of compound movements that you can do, squats are especially beneficial and a lot more convenient as well.
No equipment required
When you are doing bodyweight squats, you don't need to use equipment. And this is great when you are traveling and don’t have access to weights. Of course, you can add weights to make it more effective.
Squats are a compound movement and engage all important muscle groups of your body and especially your core. This means that doing squats can increase your weight loss and improve your overall fitness.
Being an intense compound movement, squats can increase your metabolism and make it easier for you to burn those excess calories. Squats are definitely one of the best exercises to do if you want to lose flab.
Different types of squats and their benefits
Here, I’m going to run through the various squats and their benefits. They offer enough variety to get your whole body toned and reduce subcutaneous fat deposits.
Classical Bodyweight Squats
When most people talk about squats, this is what they’re thinking of. This needs no equipment, is effective and can be done anywhere. This will form the basis of all other types of squats, and so you need to get the movement right with this. So if you’re new to squats, getting this perfect will set you up for the rest of the squats in the list.
There are several benefits to the classic squats, including increased musculature and power in your posterior chain.
Dumbbell Split Squats
This is a variation in the classical squat movement that increases your mobility and builds power in your hip flexors because of the staggered position of your feet. This is a lot like the default squat movement, but here you put one back at a comfortable position and then lower yourself while maintaining balance. Ensure that you don’t overstretch your back leg too much or you could strain your muscle.
This dumbbell variation increases your mobility and helps you stretch out your quads as well as your glutes, and increases the power in your hip flexors.
Another recent variation on the squat, the plyometric squat is used by athletes and sportsmen to build explosive power and increase mobility while building lower body musculature at the same time. The movement is as the same as the classic squat, but when you stand up, you build enough momentum, so you lift yourself off the ground and land in one motion.
Since you push yourself off with force, you increase explosiveness in your lower chain. This helps if you play sports as it enhances your mobility and helps you change direction quicker. This too doesn’t need equipment, but you need to be wary of low roof height.
An interesting take on the classic squat, during the plie squat your feet, are wider than hip-width and angled outward. When you lower yourself, make sure that your back is in a straight line and that your knees bend outward and not straight like in a regular squat. This squat movement focuses on toning your inner thighs.
This type of squats improve balance and is perhaps the only squat movement to focus on the inner thighs. This is useful because a lot of people have fat buildup on their inner thighs.
This is the advanced form of the regular squat is perhaps one of the most difficult of all bodyweight squat movements. You start in a standing position then raise your arms parallel to the floor. Next step, you raise one of your legs, making sure they are parallel to your arms. Lower yourself on one leg and then lift yourself back up. What you are essentially doing is doing a one-legged squat as this is as hard as it sounds.
Pistol squats are a grueling test of your lower body strength and balance. You need to be careful not to rush it as it can take some time for people to get this movement right.
Importance of Proper Form for Squats
As with all exercises, you need to follow proper form when it comes to squats, or you won’t get the benefits that you’re looking for, or worse, you could hurt yourself. As I mentioned before, start with the basic squats and get it right before you move on to other variations. Here are some pointers I used to make sure my form was right:
Starting position – feet shoulder-width apart, arms by the side.
Lowering your body – move hips back and not straight down, bend knees, maintain balance by leaning forward.
Balance – put your arms out in front of you to maintain balance.
Squat deep – lower yourself till your thighs are parallel to the ground at your lowest position.
Raising your body – rise back to the starting position.
While these tips can help, your best bet is to get a more experienced spotter when you’re starting out. They can point out flaws in your technique and help you iron them out.
Squats are one of the most useful compound movements as far as fitness is concerned. They focus on building power and mobility which is not just useful in sports but in real life too. Ensuring proper form when you squat can help with several leg and knee problems while also enhancing your flexibility.
Squats helped me lose weight while enhancing my posture while toning my whole body. Give squats a chance rather than putting them away for leg days – you’ll get a lot more out of it doing them every day!
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