Squats are called “the king of all exercises” because when performed correctly, they are the most effective exercise in the weight-room. Squats are useful for people interested in:
- Losing weight
- Toning muscle
- Increasing strength
- Building muscle mass
- Improving fitness
- Increasing athletic ability
Mark Rippetoe, in his book Starting Strength, summarizes the benefits of the squat perfectly:
“There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of central nervous system 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.” (Kindle Locations 555-557).
Squats will give you a tight midsection.
Core exercises are among the most common exercises at most gyms. Most of those exercises can be abandoned if favor of the barbell squat. Squats, when done correctly, will train the musculature around the hips. Furthermore, they require the core to remain tight under load. The squat requires a strong, tight midsection. As your squat improves, so will your core strength.
Squats build strength and muscle mass.
Squats are the go-to exercise for increasing overall strength and muscle mass. Squatting heavy and often will make an athlete big and strong.
Squats will strengthen much more than just the legs; they strengthen the posterior chain. Which means, they strengthen the entire body.
Squats enhance body awareness and balance.
Executing a full depth squat with a heavy load requires a great deal of body awareness and balance. The load must be centered perfectly over body’s center of gravity, and the movement must be precise in order to maintain that center of gravity throughout the entire range of motion. Squats will build that body awareness and it will transfer into other activities outside of the gym.
Squats improve athletic ability.
Squats strengthen the posterior chain. A strong posterior chain allows athletes develop a strong hip drive. A stronger hip drive will allow athletes to run faster, jump higher, hit harder, and improve in any activity that involves generating power from the lower body.
Squats are essential for anyone interested in improving their fitness. Professional athletes include them as part of their regular training and you should to.
Safety Note: Poor form on the squat can lead to injury. You should master the movement before adding weight to the squat.
Rippetoe, Mark. Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition. Wichita Falls, TX: The Aasgaard Company. 2011. Kindle Edition.