Why squats are your number one exercise…
The squat. Arguably the most important single exercise. Why? Because not only does it work our biggest trio of muscles (the glutes – aka the butt) but performed well and this is a total body blaster as core muscles and upper body muscles maintain posture and support the movement.
So here’s (most) of my last squat set today. Forgive the shoddy video, but it makes the point.
Technique is the key. Keeping knees in line with the ankle (no knocking knees!) and getting low (a*se to grass is the technical term ?) If the thighs aren’t parallel to the ground or lower, it’s not a squat. A less than full squat will mean you’re not getting all the benefits from a potentially awesome exercise and workout. You won’t be recruiting as much muscle or using your full range of motion. The result? Reduced flexibility, risk of injury (especially as you start increasing the weight), limited progression.
Can’t get low enough? Get rid of all the weight except body and pop a low box behind you so you lower onto it for each rep. Build up strength so you don’t rest on the box, and then gradually start to add weight.
Little butt squeeze at the top of the rep? There is no way my glutes are escaping any second of this exercise! It also makes sure they are fired and engaged before the next rep.
Last year my 1RM was 100kg, today 30kg (12 reps) was a butt buster. Do I care? Nope. I’m actually really happy about it.
It’s all about training for your goal. With a marathon in 5 weeks I’m Miss Endurance. Heavy muscles and super strength will do me no favours. I’m squatting lower than ever- more muscle recruitment, better flexibility and more from the core. Less is officially more ?
Note my little face grimace on the last two reps? If you’re not in that place by then, you’re not going to be creating change. The last two reps of any exercise should be tough. Tough enough to affect your facial expression :-), and tough enough to know that that last rep is you’re last, and if bribed or paid you could possible push out one more…maybe. However, not tough enough to affect technique. Bad form at the end of a set or workout is not going to optimise your results, but will surely put you at risk of injury.
On the flip side, finish the set with ease (could you comfortably pump out 3, 4, 5… even 6 more reps?) then it’s not a workout. The muscles are not being stressed and torn (sick but true), and so after rest and good protein will not rebuild denser and stronger.
TAKE AWAY: technique over weights. Less is more. Get a*se to grass.