There have been few exercises that have attracted as much attention in recent years as the squat. With the internet flooded with 60-day squat challenges and thousands of ‘fitspo’ photos showing the benefits of squats on the derriere, men and women all over the UK have been getting involved.
But are squats really as good as the fitness world would have us believe? Here are the main reasons why you should get squatting…
Squatting helps to build muscle, meaning you burn more calories when resting
The muscles that squatting will build in your legs are not only a benefit from an aesthetic point of view, but they will also help you to shed fat in the long run. For each pound of muscle that you gain, you will naturally burn an additional 50-70 calories a day. This means that if you can gain just 5lb of muscle then you could be burning an extra 250-350 calories per day while resting, and 10lb of muscle could help you burn up to 700 calories.
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Squats don’t just work your legs
Although squatting is an amazing workout for the leg muscles and glutes, it also helps to tone and tighten many other parts of the body. This is because squatting puts the body in an anabolic state which helps to build muscle. Because of the movement throughout the body when performing a squat, it also, therefore, helps to strengthen muscles all over the body, including the core.
Squatting helps you in your everyday life
Squats are an example of what is known as a ‘functional exercise’, which have the extra benefit of helping you perform everyday ‘real’ activities as opposed to simply training you to be able to use a piece of gym equipment. By building your leg muscles you will increase your overall strength, as well as improve your balance and stamina.
You don’t need to go to the gym
The great thing about this exercise is that it requires no equipment and can essentially be done anywhere when you have some spare time. While holding weights while you squat will increase the benefits of the exercise, they are not essential and squatting without dumbbells will still help to strengthen and tone your leg muscles.
So now you know why you should be squatting, this is how you carry out the perfect squat:
- Warm up first. Squats involve some big muscles so you don’t want to risk pulling anything and injuring yourself.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders
- Slowly bend at the knees and lower yourself til you are at a 90 degree angle to the floor
- Be sure not to let your knees move in front of your ankles, and keep your back straight
- Return to your standing position and repeat 15-20 times for 3 sets.
It is important to give your muscles time to recover between workouts, so aim to incorporate squats into your workouts around 3 times a week, ensuring you have rest days.