The squat is one of the most important exercises you should can do. And the best part is you can do them anywhere. Yes, weighted squats at the gym will help you build the most muscle. But even bodyweight variations can be strengthening and effective. Whether you’re training to enhance your sports performance or just want to lose weight and get healthy, squats will help.
Chances are, you already know the value of doing squats. Maybe they’re already a part of your regular gym routine. Excellent. But do you know all the benefits of squats?
On the other hand, perhaps you’re a bit of a naysayer. You find squats to be exhausting and difficult. You don’t feel like they’re helping you with your specific fitness goals.
But learning their benefits will help you get motivated.
Many people focus on the obvious benefits of squats - they improve balance, they work multiple muscle groups, the promote weight loss, etc. These are not the end of the benefits for men and women who make squats a part of their regular workouts. Consider these 3 surprising benefits of hitting the rack and squatting strong.
When you do a squat, you engage multiple muscle groups in a massive strength movement. That leads to the production of testosterone and human growth hormone. If you want to build lean muscle and get strong, that’s very important. Squats are not the only exercise that do this, but they are the best at it.
In 2014, a study was published into the the effects of resistance exercises on hormone production. Researchers compared squats with leg presses. The results? Squats won out and the researchers concluded that “free weight exercises seem to induce greater hormonal responses to resistance exercises than machine weight exercises.”
As you complete the motion of a squat, your muscles stretch and more blood is pumped through your upper and lower body. Improved circulation helps protect you from a host of preventable health problems - including deep vein thrombosis.
One Korean study from 2014 looked at the “effects of squat exercises… on the blood flow velocity of the lower extremities for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis.” Researchers recorded the changes in blood flow velocity in participants after performing squat exercises. What did they find?
They concluded that “based on the results of this study, we consider squat exercises are effective at reducing the variation in lower-extremity blood flow velocity and can be recommended for increasing blood flow rates.”
This is probably not what you’re thinking of as you finish your last set of squats in the gym. But all those muscle contractions through your thighs and abs are getting things moving internally too. And the results are better digestion and elimination of food waste.
As your thighs compress your intestines during a squat, waste is naturally pushed through your large intestine. This reduces your risk of chronic constipation - something that has become all too common in the Western world.
Some experts recommend that Westerners switch to the squat toilet - which is common in many parts of the world. If you’re not quite ready to make that change, doing squats in the gym will still aid in your digestion.
You’ve got every reason to keep squatting strong at the gym. You will build lean muscle, lose weight, build mental toughness, improve your joints and balance - and those weren’t even mentioned above. Clearly, there are myriad reasons to include squats in your regular fitness routine.
Remember, squats are intense. They work multiple muscle groups throughout your upper and lower body. So always use the best post-workout recovery drink afterwards to promote muscle growth and minimize soreness.