If you want to stimulate the profits to the maximum in all your body, the best exercise is bar squats. Smith machine squats, Hack squats and the leg presses have its function, but the free bar squat has no rival in pursuit of a global metabolic response.
Studies show that a session of squats is one of the best ways of exercising the whole body. In fact, the most difficult exercises are usually the most productive ones and squats is the queen. Nothing good is for free, so let’s train.
Many people, including some experimented athletes, are afraid of squats. There are terrible stories about bodybuilders and powerlifters falling into pieces under spectacular loads. Sometimes we can see photographs of those bad moments in the magazines or in the Internet and the black legend of this exercise increases.
However, there are many differences between a professional powerlifter that burdens on his shoulders 360 kilos or a high-level bodybuilder that lift 225 kilos and you. It is true that for certain people this motion is not beneficial, because they suffer a back injury, especially in the lumbar zone, and knees and hips injuries. Instead, the light problems in the knees and back improve with a weekly session of moderate squats.
It is not necessary to use a great amount of weight to make the squat productive. In fact, this exercise is anobolically more efficient if using a light weight with many sets and high repetitions. I guarantee it will be a hard session, but if you are concentrated and the technique is correct, you will suffer no risk of injuries.
How is a squat done? First, belt is not needed. I know this is opposite to the gym’s wisdom, but it has a reason: the inner pressure is directed outwards when using a belt and this should serve as a stabilizer. But, without a belt, the inner pressure is directed inwards and the abdominals and other trunk muscles become the stabilizers, as it should be. This way you will reinforce the whole middle zone; something impossible with a belt.
If your execution is correct, focus in the motion and increase the load gradually to avoid injuries. Use the abs and the trunk to calculate how much weight you can move. Forget the belt unless you are a powerlifter or a bodybuilder about to perform a maximum competition.
THE FIRST IS THE FIRST
Whenever possible do squats on a structure, despite having a training partner. With the structure you will be relaxed because you know that, if necessary, you can drop the bar. Little by little you will gain confidence. It is no shame to drop the bar, although if you use a moderate load that should not happen usually. If you cannot use the squat structure because some strongman is on it, do the squats anyway, but be very careful.
Grab the bar with a comfortable separation between hands. Stand under the bar, place it on your shoulders and trapezius and take it out of the support. Take one deep breathe on each repetition.
Fix your eyes on the ceiling or front and don’t move them. Duck until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Make sure the heels are on the ground. For some people it is more comfortable to rest the heels on some discs, especially when trying to build the neuronal connection, which provides a good execution.
When you reach the parallel line, exhale the air and go back to the starting point. To increase the neuromuscular implication, direct the tension to the heels, not to the tip of your feet.
Focus on the way and on the breathing. Leave the chat for later. You have to move the weight and not your partner.
Don’t let the exercise control you. The squats can’t threaten you. Even if you are beginners, keep control starting with low weight. Don’t worry if at first you use the bar with no discs. Who cares? Do not listen to the critics and keep working. This way you will learn the correct execution and you will be able to increase the load.
Dedicate a complete session to squats. If you can do any exercise after this that means you haven’t done it right. Complete 10 pyramidal ascendant and descendant sets of bar squats. The secret to make this exercise productive is giving your utmost. You have to feel you can’t do a single repetition more, but still complete two or three.
The long term goal is to be able to tolerate a session like this or even enjoy it. You will only achieve the global energy a session of squats provides by increasing the load gradually. During the next six months dedicate a weekly session to squats on structure compound by 10 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Do a warming up which involves walking, riding a bike or doing light dumbbell strides and, after that, stretch the muscles of the legs. It is not advisable to start the session with the muscles cold. You have to increase the body temperature to avoid injuries and improve the performance. An hour before the session, have a proteic blend because you will need the energy. Use this simple program during several weeks and you will achieve strength and vitality.
Besides, practising squats regularly will provide profits in the whole body thanks to the metabolic response the movement generates. If some parts of your body do not respond, do squats; it has been helpful for me and many others. Don’t settle for your current status and improve it.
MAY THIS FALSENESSES DO NOT RESTRICT YOU
Many people don’t do squats because they have believed one or all the falsenesses we describe below:
FALSENESS 1: SQUATS ARE ONYL FOR STAUNCH BODYBUILDERS
It is true that advanced bodybuilders and professional athletes use squats, but because they work, not because they are supposed to do them. You don’t need to do the Ronnie Coleman’s squats routine, but one according to your level. You can use the exercise of the professionals, but with a load, sets and repetitions system adapted to yourself. You will be surprised by how much you progress in a short time.
FALSENESS 2: SQUATS ARE HARMFUL FOR THE BACK AND KNESS
Any insistence on this issue is low. Unless you suffer a back, knees or hip injury, this exercise is the best to strengthen those parts. The fear of injury makes bodybuilders turn to other exercises, as Smith machine squats, which are truly more harmful, and the leg presses, which does not produce the same development neither the metabolic response the free squats do. Also, many trainers are reluctant to use this exercise because of these myths.
The truth is squats are a movement that strengthens the back if performed slowly, within the athlete’s possibilities and with more emphasis in the execution than in the load. The amount of kilos is irrelevant in a weight program, since the impact of those kilos on our body is what matters.
Moreover, this exercise not only trains the big muscles of the legs and back, but also the stabilizers and tendons. Start with low weight and gradually increase it so that the good execution becomes automatic, this way you will strengthen the whole body as you never did and you will be better in other exercises.
FALSENESS 3: SQUATS ARE DANGEROUS
This motion is dangerous only if you do it madly, without an adequate execution neither applying the concentration it deserves. Precisely, the concentration required is the reason for many don’t do them. Doing squats perfectly is very hard. Accept the challenge and stop using excuses.