I don’t know how many times I’ve told non-CrossFitters and non-lifters this old adage:
Squats are super important and ultra-beneficial. Here are some reasons why you must squat:
1. It is a functional movement. When you change a tire, you squat. When you lift a box off the floor, you squat. When you poop in Japan, you squat (wait, what?) Seriously! You find the squat everywhere in human movement. For ages the squat has been the substitute for sitting on a flat surface. Even today there are cultures that stay in a squatted position for the larger part of their day. It is natural and biomechanically safe.
2. Builds muscles in your entire body. Obviously, the squat helps to develop your lower extremity muscle groups. But they also create a situation in which all of your muscles can develop by way of an anabolic stimulation which can trigger the release of testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) which are the chemicals that help lean out and trigger muscle development throughout your body, not just your legs. Squatting is a foundation of any proper muscle-building routine.
3. Squatting develops your connective tissues, especially those in your stabilizing areas: knees, angles, and hips. All the tendons and ligaments grow thicker and are less likely to tear or rupture when stressed. This is hugely important if your particular sport is high impact on your legs or requires massive amounts of ankle or knee stability. (Football players, I’m looking at you!)
4. Keeps you bendy, keeps you balanced. The full range of motion/below parallel squat keeps your joints functional throughout the entire range of motion (a staple in CrossFit, mind you). But it also keeps you limber and flexible and improves kinesthetic awareness as you learn to keep your balance and control your frontal plane weight distribution as your body changes shape during the squat (especially useful when doing weighted or heavy squats).
5. Squatting is the primary difference between just having a butt and having an ASS!You want a nicely toned rear end? Squat. You want to fill in your jeans? Squat. You want your legs to be proportional to your glutes? Squat. Squatting is a natural functional movement and it will build a natural functional physique that anyone will envy.
6. Build more muscle, burn more fat. Are you trying to lose weight or lean down? Squats can help! For every pound of muscle mass your body gains, you burn an additional 50-70 calories per day carrying that business around with you. It accelerates fat burning unlike most other exercises.
But Coach, I can’t squat! What do I do?
Well this is a simple question with a tough love answer. I’ll echo Elliott Hulse when I say:
It’s as simple as that. If you do not have the physical ability to properly squat then it is imperative for your overall health and performance as an athlete that you work to develop the organic strength, mobility, and range of motion necessary for the squat. No amount of leg extensions, leg press, toe raises or hamstring curls can ever take the place of the squat.
Read why you should wear the proper shoes in It’s Gotta Be The (Weightlifting) Shoes.
There is no alternate exercise that can substitute the squat. If you cannot squat, then you absolutely MUST squat. And if you can, you should probably squat some more.
Contrary to popular belief, squats are NOT bad for your knees when performed properly. There have been several studies on this subject that have been definitive in dispelling this myth. Do not fear the squat, for it loves you like its own.
When I’m assessing a new strength coaching client or a CrossFit athlete, my first inclination is to have them attempt a properly setup air squat. I will be able to tell almost everything about their macrophysiology from watching them squat. A good coach can immediately see strength imbalances, mobility issues, bad habits and good habits just by watching people squat.
More Info: Tabata Times