Good morning readers! It’s David here, for fitness friday. How’s your week been?
So far in our Beginner’s Guide Fitness Series, we have covered functional training and two compound exercises (the overhead press and deadlifts); what makes compound exercises very useful is that they involve two or more joints and workout multiple muscle groups. Also I strongly feel that compound exercises have a functional element to them by better imitating the resistance your body might have to overcome in daily activities. Today I want to write about arguably the best and simplest compound exercise you can do, the squat.
Benefits of Squats:
- Increased Mobility
- Injury Prevention
- Increased Lower Body Strength
- Increased Athleticism
- Increased Functional Strength
LEARNING THE MILITARY SQUAT IN NAVY BOOTCAMP
My introduction to this amazing compound and functional movement wasn’t easy, I learned about squats by doing the bodyweight version over and over again in bootcamp. While in basic training our instructors knew one of the best exercises to prepare their recruits for passing the physical examinations was lots of bodyweight squats. After bootcamp I avoided squats for a long time and while in the gym primarily worked out my lower body with the leg press (which is still a great exercise), but that all changed when I got schooled by the old school.
WHAT A PROFESSIONAL GYMNAST TAUGHT ME ABOUT SQUATS
One day a few years back when I was working out in my building’s gym an older gentlemen came in and hopped on the stationary bike; I was in the middle of what I considered to be a pretty hardcore workout and decided to tone it down to be respectful. Imagine my surprise when the older guy hopped off the stationary bike, went right to the bench press and put up a lot more weight than I could have lifted at the time. I was shocked and humbled (appearances can be deceptive), turns out the guy was once a gymnast and afterwards when we bumped into each other at the gym he would give me valuable pointers.
One of the things my gymnast friend encouraged was laying off the leg press a little and squatting, this was around the same time that I shifted to a more functional way of working out and including more compound exercises, a shift I believe was principal in making me a stronger person.
To introduce you to the squat I encourage you to begin like I did with a military style bodyweight version:
- keeping your feet shoulder width apart
- your hands clasped behind your head (or straight in front of you)
- lower your body down by pushing your hips back and bending your knees
- with your thighs parallel to the floor slowly lift yourself back up to the starting position
As your progress with the bodyweight squat you can add resistance with a barbell, dumbbells or resistance band.
The squat is a fantastic movement and I encourage you to learn the correct form with the bodyweight version and then explore the many great variations of this exercise.
Please feel free to leave a comment about your experience or if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading and as always cheers to your good health!