16 Jun The Squat
The KING of all exercises, the squat. Most people who regularly go to the gym have a “love-hate” relationship with leg day, the core of which is the squat. The reason why the squat is feared by so many is because it simply goes against every natural instinct to put such a huge load on our back, and intentionally drop down below parallel and drive the weight up. As the largest muscles in our body that are worked in the squat (quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings) become fatigued and burn with pain and agony it becomes even more difficult to muster both the strength and courage to drop back down and force another rep. A solid pre-workout will help give you the motivation you need to step under that bar and squat with it, because sometimes it seems a little crazy to try and defy gravity with the squat. Luckily, pre-workouts make you a bit crazy.
Based on the brief description above, it is likely you are picturing a bulky and masculine man, but do not be misled as squatting is extremely beneficial for women too. Ladies, to develop that tight, firm, and toned pair of legs and butt you desire you must incorporate the squat into your regimen. Do not be intimidated by the weights, they are your friend, and I assure you, you will not become bulky. This is similar to the common misconception that it is not necessary for women to consume whey protein shakes, but protein is absolutely essential recover to and gain muscle. It is much more difficult for you to put on muscle mass than men, and we all know how hard lots of men try to do just that struggle?
Please understand that with the squat, everyone?s form will vary slightly such as feet width, bar placement, depth, and grip based on what is comfortable and your goals. There are two very different variances of the squat which are utilized based on your goals. However, let’s start with the basics.
- Stand as if you were going to try and jump as high as you can. This will be the width of your feet, it should be somewhere around shoulder width or slightly wider.
- Take your toes and angle them out around 20 degrees and alter to your comfort.
- Now, before you descend into the squat you need to brace. To brace you need to breathe into your belly which tightens your core. To do this, inhale NOT into your chest but into your abdomen. To ensure you are bracing correctly, examine your clavicle (collar bone) and make sure it remains almost motionless, your belly should be what is expanding. Once you take a full breath, hold it and push outward with your abdomen. This will make your core invincible and is necessary to stabilize your spine for the duration of the movement, which will be crucial when you’re ready to add weight.
- Now you should feel powerful and grounded to the earth. If someone dropped a thousand pounds on your shoulders you would be ready for it. (Still without the bar) Sink backward and down with your hips first, then break at your knees after.
- As you descend, pretend you are pinching a penny with your butt cheeks, to ensure you are getting proper glute activation and press outward with your knees as you sink.
- Once at the bottom of the squat, the weight should be distributed evenly across your foot, your knees should be wider than your feet. Chest should be upward and back should be straight with a neutral spine. You should also be at least parallel at this point.
- When pressing back up, it is important to keep your chest upright. “Pinch the penny” even harder as you come up. Breathe out as your press up at the bottom of the squat.
- Return to the position you started in and repeat until you establish muscle memory. You must perfect this before adding weight. You may notice muscle tightness in areas preventing you from completing the movement properly. If so, stretch accordingly.
Perhaps even worse than the leg day itself, is the pain and misery the soreness causes for the next few days. Every step you will feel the microscopic tears you inflicted on your muscles. The lactic acid build up will cause extreme muscle soreness and tightness, so proper nutrition and supplementation is paramount for this recovery process. I drink a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement during every workout to minimize the soreness as much as possible. Now, you are ready to conduct the king of exercises and become stronger both mentally and physically.