Squats: King of Weight Training Lifts
By Paul Rothbart
Weight training is an excellent way to get in shape and maintain good health. People who lift often have favorite exercises. Usually it's the upper body lifts. Bench presses seem to hold a particular fascination, maybe curls or military presses. The upper body is usually the way people like to show off strength. But in truth, the best lift with the most benefits is a lower body move. The squat may not be glamorous but it builds more than just the thighs. In fact, you could build a pretty solid body just by doing squats. Here are some of the ways this lift can benefit your body.
Strong Quads and Hamstrings
The first and most obvious is that squats are the most effective exercise for building the muscles of the thighs. These would be the quadriceps and hamstrings. These vital muscles are vital to walking, running, and even simply standing. In addition to strength, building these thigh muscles can contribute to speed and athletic performance. They are also the muscles used to safely lift heavy objects and push things like stalled cars. Very useful indeed.
The calves are tough muscles that have the job of supporting the entire weight of the body any time you are on your feet. When doing squats, the calves are providing the solid base that allows the thighs to do their work. They grow stronger just as the thighs do. Stronger calves support the body better. The calves absorb much of the shock while running. When they are stronger, they do this more efficiently and protect other parts of the body better.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body. Squats work the glutes and are very effective in strengthening them. Strong glutes provide stability to the lower body, lowering risk of injury and making more intense workouts possible.
The core is the muscles of the torso. They have the vital job of supporting the upper body as it sits on the lower body. A strong core is essential to a strong and healthy body. While performing squats, the bar must be held stable across the shoulders. It is the core that does this job; as a major supporting muscle group during squats, the core muscles can't help but get stronger. This makes the overall body stronger as well as helping to prevent injuries.
For those who lift weights, it's fun to do all those upper body moves. They make you feel like a superhero. But don't neglect squats. They are, without a doubt, the one exercise that strengthens the most essential muscle groups. Let the show-offs focus on bench presses. A true lifter gets in those squats.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Amarillo, Tex.