If you’ve ever been to a class at CrossFit Diamond State you know that I love to squat. Light, definitely heavy, and often. There are certainly many methods to my madness and reasons why I think the squat, in all fashions, is incredibly important to include often in our programming. There’s an old saying that says if you want big biceps, you should squat. I love that! If there could be one exercise that I do for the rest of my life, it’s the squat. The benefits of squatting definitely make up for having “Gumby” legs or walking like a baby deer. Let’s take a look at 3 benefits and why they are so good for us.
- We don’t hashtag ‘quadzilla’ for no reason! Squatting, below parallel, will help develop stronger, bigger legs. As you squat lower the muscles of your posterior chain are forced to do more work, thus increasing muscular development as compared to partial squats. Also, the lower you go, and with heavy weight, your brain sends signals to the muscle fibers forcing them to grow. Don’t be that “guy” who skips leg day.
- From a medical standpoint, squatting below parallel is great for strengthening the low back as well as keeping your knees healthy! A successful, hip crease below the knee squat leaves little room for error. Going for a PR or maximal lift requires an upright torso and activation of as much musculature as possible. Being in this stable, low position balances the inclusion of glutes and lower back. The more they work, the stronger they’ll be. A healthy knee means healthy, strong connective tissue (tendons and ligaments). If you experience knee pain from squatting (and don’t have a pre diagnosed injury or condition) it’s likely due to imbalances and poor mechanics, not from depth. If your knees bother you and you have sound mechanics in your squat, please see a doctor.
- Your muscles are the largest organs of the body. They stay alive and well by being put through proper ranges of motion and simply by moving. Maximum flexibility is a HUGE factor in whether or not your muscles are being activated and strengthened. Squatting below parallel is great for improving flexibility and activating that musculature. See where I’m going here?
By now I should have all of you beyond convinced that squatting is the king of the iron jungle. Awesome!
If squatting is something you struggle with and you cannot seem to find a way to get your hips below parallel, try some squat therapy. Seriously. You have a date with squatting every day for about a month until it gets better. How does squat therapy work?
First we need to pin point weaknesses or areas of limited range of motion and start there.
Let’s say you can’t quite get all of the way down without letting your chest drop. Day 1 we will have you squat, using perfect mechanics, to a box set at the appropriate height. You will hit that target countless times until it’s engraved in your DNA. Ok, maybe not that long, but enough reps for it to become easier and more natural. The next step is lowering the box height. Every week you’ll lower the height until you can do a perfect air squat keeping your torso nice and tall. Dedicate yourself to the program and the results will follow.