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Most people who know me and have talked workout routines know that I am a HUGE fan of the barbell squat and other variants and I highly recommend that everyone adds it to their routine. Its no surprise considering the following benefits

  1. A squat performed with good form and appropriate load fires up the central nervous system like few other exercise can. This is important because it primes your body for muscle growth andcan really add vigor to a workout.
  2. Squats performed to a good depth (at least to parallel, but preferably A2G – ass to grass) hit a lot of different muscle groups.
    Want a strong rigid core? Perform squats!
    Want to gain overall strength and build a lot of muscle? Perform squats!
    Want to get a toned and firm ass? Perform squats!
    Want to strengthen and grow the quads? Perform squats!
    Want to cure cancer? Perform squats!
  3. Performing heavy squats regularly increases bone density
  4. The squat motion and overall strength gains translate well into normal life – moving furniture, lifting stuff in the yard, etc
  5. Did I mention they give you a great ass?

In fact I really think heavy barbell squats contributed the greatest results in my core (particularly the abs), quads and glutes. Before I had no ass, now I do. Before my legs were spindly and out of proportion with my upper body, now they are more appropriately sized.

The most commonly known squat is the barbell squat, with the barbell resting on the shoulders/traps. Variants that I perform most often are the front squat (less stressful on the back/spine) and hack squats. You can also perform dumbbell squats holding a pair of dumbbells to your side.
Most commonly I recommend to folks starting out (particularly those that wish to work out at home with minimal equipment) is to squat with a medicine ball or sand bag.

When you do loaded squats for the first time, you need to expect to be sore for a couple of days. Its probably that you haven’t hit these muscle groups effectively before and so there will be some adjustment period. If you are sore the day or two after squats be sure to do light leg work to get the blood flowing. Also, as with any workout, you can reduce DOMS by taking a decent protein drink after your workout (I’ll have another article about workout drinks later).

Here are some great articles on squatting and squat techniques:

Oh and no talk about squats isn’t complete without various words of wisdom from the vocal Dave Tate, but don’t worry you don’t have to go to extremes to get amazing results:

“Very few movements require the same degree of dedication, desire and determination as heavy squats. Squats are more than a physical strength builder and may be the only movement that builds a person’s character. Life is about standing up AFTER a heavy load takes you down.”

“One of the few lifts that can cause blood, sweat and tears to leave the body at the same time – without you knowing.”

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