5 Reasons Why You Need To Squat More
Squatting is a basic foundational movement. Forget smith racks and leg press, there is really no other leg exercise that compares to a squat. Strength, power and mobility are all challenged in the barbell squat, which is why it’s surprising to seeing guys avoid squatting in their programming or just not squatting enough. These are my top 5 reasons why you need to squat more:
1: Overall Strength and Power
I’m using the term ‘power’ loosely here; power is technically defined as the rate of work over time. Work is defined in physics as the amount of forced placed upon an object times its displacement. When we perform a squat, for example, we use a particular amount of force to move the object (a bar), while the displacement stays relatively stable since we are moving within a particular range of motion.
You move a 100kg barbell from extension to flexion and back to full extension. You’ve performed a particular amount of work. Work increases when we lift heavier, and decreases when we lift less. The more work performed, the greater the strength.
So this means that simply performing a squat creates work for the entire core and lower limbs… talk about efficiency! A leg curl or leg press machine removes the amount of work being performed on the overall unit. A smith machine is even worse, removing all of the stabilizer muscles from the exercise, leaving the core untrained through a squat. With the exception of high level bodybuilders and those on specialized rehab programs, absolutely no athlete should ever use a smith rack or machine to perform exercises!
Let’s briefly get into power. Let’s look at your work done (technically defined as Joules of work) over time. To progress, we need to train power and strength. With more work completed in a shorter amount of time, power increases. Those looking to improve crossfit or weightlifting performance need to pay close attention to how much work and power they do to see improvements. Without a decent stimulus in these two categories, you may not see improvements
2: CrossFit and Squatting
Squatting plays two roles in CrossFit; first, it’s a functional movement. Front and back squats are a part of so many of the classic CrossFit exercises. Think of thrusters, box jumps, wall balls and lunges. If you are not squatting 3 times per week, minimally, don’t expect to see improvements in CrossFit performance!
Second, being able to perform squats at both at a high intensity and high volume (lots of repetitions) makes all other crossfit movements easy. Don’t believe it? Just take a look at the top 50 CrossFit games finishers. Check out squat PRs and you’ll notice that the stronger athletes perform better, even at movements which don’t appear to require a lot of strength.
3: Weightlifting and Squatting
In Olympic lifting, squatting is jokingly referred to as the 3rd lift. Anyone who lifts knows that squats need to be performed 3 to 5 times per week, every week. There are no exceptions to this. Workouts are usually organized around a 3 to 6 day program. A classic lifting workout looks something like this:
Clean & Jerk
Clean & Jerk
Sure, intensity and volume are played with, as well as the addition of accessory movements, but lifters must squat frequently. Why? Well, even though snatch and Cleans have a squat within the movements themselves, it’s not enough to improve strength. Training snatch and clean & jerk tax the nervous system more than they tax the muscles. Squatting separately from the lifts is the only way to improve strength within the lifts!
However, do not be fooled enough to think that a massive squat will push your lifts. Again, looking at numbers of the top 50 lifters in the world shows that the biggest squat numbers are not necessarily producing the biggest lifts!
4: Core Strength
The mechanics of a squat demand core strength. This is why squatting is a classic functional core strength exercise. Particularly, a front squat works the muscles of the abs as well as postural muscles of the spine, like the erector spinae. Having a load placed in the front rack position creates a longer lever from the center of gravity, forcing the core to work harder to maintain an upright position.
Does this mean getting a six pack by squatting?? Honestly, no, because strength and 6 packs are not necessarily related! But you will develop fantastic core strength through squatting.
5: Improve Hip and Back Mobility
The popularity of mobility in strength training has been on the rise for some time. More and more men are seeing the importance of being able to move through a good range of motion in order to perform better results. Squats require a flexible ankle for dorsiflexion and plantarflexion, a mobile hip joint for external rotation and abduction, and a lower back that extends as needed.
If you can’t perform an overhead squat comfortably below 90 degrees, you need to work on squatting. The beauty of squatting is that most people need to do more squats in order to improve their mobility in a squat. Rather than look at all the other exercises and mobility work you need to do, first try squatting and queuing all the correct positions for 3-4 weeks. Squatting is the absolute best way to improve squatting. Want to become more mobile? Work on overhead squats!