A squat was probably one of the first compound exercises (an exercise that works more than one muscle group) I learned when I was younger and have reaped benefits for enjoying it. It can be done with your body weight, which is advisable for younger ages and beginners, but as you get older or more advanced, you can evolve to using weights and other compound leg exercise variations. The reason I am focusing on squats is because they’re beneficial in working the majority of muscles in your legs, especially the big and mirror muscles.
Squat Muscles Worked
Quads – The quadriceps are made up of four muscles that are found on the front of the thigh, that when you bend your knee they stretch and the muscles relax, while when you straighten your knee the muscles contract.
Glutes – The butt is made up of three muscles, all of them working together to give you the shape of your butt and allowing your hips to have power and rotate legs in the required direction at the hips.
Inner Thigh Muscles – The large inner muscle of the thigh that is called the Adductor Magnus, it forms a triangular shape on your inner thigh and is a pretty strong.
Hamstring Muscles – The hamstrings are made up of three muscles at the back of thigh, which contract when bending the knee and relax when the knee is straightened, so it basically assists in bending the knee when squatting.
Calf Muscles – There are two muscles at the bottom of your leg above your ankles, one being the bigger evident bumps at calf and the other one being smaller located underneath the big bumps.
Back Muscles – Your back muscles become activated from doing squats, from the upper back and lats to the erectors which keep your back straight and help you be able to rotate it, the go down alongside the spine, as they are known as erector spinae muscles.
Abdominal Muscles – These are very important when needing the push in some squat rep. This is your stomach area and obliques, I refer to this as your core and that’s why I support doing core after each workout for those days you need that extra push in your workout.
All these muscles get worked more intensely when you’re using a weight, especially the back and abdominal muscles.
How to Do a Squat
- Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder width with your feet pointing forward. Your foot width and pointing should be comfortable, if you need them a bit wider or pointing slightly outwards, that is perfectly fine.
- Drive your hips back while bending you knees and ankles as you go down like you’ll be sitting on a chair or on the toilet. Try keeping your weight on your heels, without lifting your toes and ensuring your knees don’t bend far ahead of your toes. Head and chest up, with your shoulders back
- Go down until your quads and hamstrings are parallel to the ground, meaning knees are bent to a 90-degree angle. As you can see that I go do down deeper, because I try to activate my muscles more, especially the hamstrings, but you don’t have to do that.
- Pushing off your heels, straighten your legs in a controlled manner and ensure that you do not lock your knees at the top of the movement. Locking your knees is when you get them in a position that can cause a bit of hyperextension, which can be very uncomfortable and lead to further injury.
- At the top of the movement, if you want to keep the muscles being worked activated, squeeze your glutes (bum), especially if you want that ass to grow and be firm.
- It is actually beneficial to use the squat to lift heavy things off the ground to prevent back issues in future and strengthening your squat can make that a lot easier.
- It is a compound exercise as was mentioned before, therefore works multiple muscles at the same time and can be sufficient as workout e.g. 100 squats in a workout or throughout the day.
- They do not require equipment to do them, therefore can be an effective exercise to do wherever you are.
- It is time-efficient in the sense that since it is a compound exercise, you can complete a predominately leg workout only using it.
- A bodyweight/lightweight squat can prevent injury as it can be used as a warm-up exercise in activating your lower body muscles, ligaments and tendons for any strenuous exercise or workout that will involve your legs.
As was stated before, if you’re under 16 or a beginner in doing squats, started with body weight to get the form right first, which is highly important in preventing injury or physical problems in future such as:
- Lower back problems
- Damaged ligaments in your legs or ankles
- Damaged lower body muscles
- Hyperextension of the knee
These go from highly possible to extreme to acknowledge the importance of proper form and manageable weight to prevent any of these things from occurring, if you’ve advanced from these early stages, you will be introduced to variation to squats.
There are many squat variation out there on the internet, but if you ever need to check out variations in leg exercises, I have some workouts that I have done that include squats and/or variations of leg exercises to maximize that leg workout results.
Otherwise, these days, I do mostly full body HIIT workouts as you can see on my Instagram, because I love doing time-efficient exercises, especially if I am trying to build a business on the side and provide content on this blog, while working and studying. I am making the most of it, because I am alive and hope that you will do that too.