Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Big Five: Squats

I am sorry that I have been M.I.A the last two weeks.  Graduate school has just begun for me, and has taken some time for me to adjust to.  The class work has been time consuming, and I am trying to find ways to keep myself organized and accomplish all that I need to get done.  I am starting to find my mojo again, so keep tight as the blog posts will continue to roll in.  But on a positive note, football season is in full tilt (GO CHARGERS!), and it will really help to distract me from the stresses that school brings.  Watching the big plays and the big hits really brings the kid out of me.

You know what helps these defensive players to put big hits on like this one?

SQUATS

This installment of the big five series, is the squat and my favorite variation, the front squat.

In all honesty, squats are pretty damn awesome.  They build massive size and help you shred fat, but I do have a love/hate relationship with this exercise.  I hate life during the set, but before, after and all other times in the day I love them.

Why you should squat?

The first is to be functional, whatever that means today.    With all this stability ball, un-stable surface talk functional has lost its meaning.  Functional to me is just being able to do the basic movements that humans were meant to with out any compensatory patterns,  but I digress.

Squatting is a basic movement pattern that we are all born with.  Have you ever watched a baby squat? It is perfect.  If you were doing this when you were a baby, why does 90% of America struggle with squatting as adults?  Squats are a total body exercise, hitting just about every muscle in the body all in just one simple movement.  You can’t get that from doing your leg extension machine.

Secondly, it will help you put on muscle.  And who in this world today does not want that?  Every guy wants bigger muscles, and squats are a one stop shop.  They increase levels of anabolic hormones within your body causing your body to grow to limits never seen before.  And we are not just talking about your legs getting bigger; this will help you in all aspects of your training right down to helping your biceps grow.

Third, squats are great for shredding fat.  Since squats work so many muscles at once, they are highly metabolic burning a lot of calories in a short period of time.  Also, since they help you add lean body mass helping to increase your metabolism, you will be able to drop body fat without losing muscle.  This allows us to get that “toned” look every person that steps into a gym is after. So for the ladies that are afraid to get big because they lift heavy, don’t worry. This exercise will help you tone-up, lift-up and shred fat to help you get the body that you want.

And finally, my favorite reason, to get hella strong.  And yes, I said hella.

Heavy squats will help push your strength through the roof.  It will help you not just to improve your squats but also your dead-lifts, bench, and even help you dominate the court in your Sunday football league.  Everyone will have the benefits of being stronger, so lift heavy.

And if there is any question left to why you should get stronger here is another one.

Squat Technique

  • First thing is the foot position.  Make sure that your feet are shoulder width apart.  You want to make sure that you have enough space between your feet; this will ensure that you will be able to get the hips open enough to sit to parallel.
  • Once the feet are set, think about the foot tripod.  You want to spread your foot across the floor keeping pressure on the big toe and the outside heel.
  • Once set, think about spreading the floor with your feet and pushing your hips back (not down).  This will keep your knees steady and help you keep stability at the bottom of the lift.
  • Once parallel to the ground, spread the floor with your feet and drive out of the hole with your hips.
  • At the top lock out with glutes and quads as tight as you can.
  • Repeat

SQUAT VARIATIONS

1.  BACK SQUAT

The back squat used to be deemed the king of all exercises.  And as great as they are for you, I hardly prescribe them to anyone.  With the growing amount of lower back injuries occurring today, I do not back squat with my clients.  Nor do I really back squat myself, due to my own lower back problems.  I am not taking away anything from the back squat; it is still an amazing exercise that will help you get amazing results. If the exercise fits into your grand scheme, then by all means, back squat away.

2.  FRONT SQUAT

This is my preferred weapon of torture.  Loading the bar more anteriorly, we are able to activate the core much better, keep a better vertical shin, and allow us to keep our chest up the entire time.   For me personally, I feel it has a greater risk to reward benefit then front squats and has become a staple in my programming.  You may not be able to load as heavy as the front squat, but it will still help you get incredible strength and size gains.

3.  GOBLET SQUAT

This is the beginner level squat.  For those of you with weak cores, or bad mobility this exercise will help groove that squat pattern back into you.  It will teach you how to build stability throughout the entire squat movement while at the same time allowing better movement due to the increased core activation.  If you don’t feel comfortable squatting, or know your technique looks horrible, then start with the goblet squat and work your way up to heavy back and front squats.