In many parts of the world squatting is common while cooking, eating, birthing, and relieving oneself. We used to squat all the time. We are designed to squat. Why we would squat constantly in the wild. In nature, to navigate life and stay alive, we foraged all day. We would squat down, pick a leafy green, and eat it, likely while still in the squat position, staying low and looking around for trouble or more food. We would squat to track our prey, squat to defecate, and we would squat to relax because we didn’t have chairs. Our body’s have been squatting for a long time, and we are still evolved to squat.
“Squatting is a fundamental movement that every human being is designed to do. But due to a combination of weakness and immobility from a lifetime of wearing restrictive footwear and sitting in a chair, many of us in urban industrialized societies have lost the ability to squat properly.” – Rui Li, a certified personal trainer
The Main Benefits of Squatting
Squatting regularly and properly can help improve range of motion and strengthen muscles throughout the lower body including the glutes, hips, ankles.
2. Body Alignment
Squats can correct help body alignment. When you first do a squat (if it’s been a while), not only will you feel stiff and tight, you will also notice that certain joints just aren’t moving right. Things are “out of place” as they say. You could go to a chiropractor, but most would benefit from just doing daily squats. As the body’s joints get used and get more limber, as blood flows in areas it was not getting to well previously, the body will usually start to align itself back into place.
Squats work most of the largest muscles in your body, such as your hips, glutes, abductors, and quadriceps. Other muscles engaged include your hamstrings calves, and all your core muscles as well as most other stabilizer muscles. Doing squats naturally produces testosterone and builds muscle, not just in the legs.
Squats move organs and bodily systems, which gently massages and stimulates organs, lymph, and glands. Squats increase blood flow. As the organs get massaged and stimulated, and the body gets more flexible and the joints ease up you’ll notice an increase in blood flow all over the body.
5. Improve Circulation
The circulatory system needs bodily movement to function properly. Doing squats will stimulate the gland,s the organs, and get help get the blood circulating better.
6. Energy Boost
When you open pathways, stimulate glands and get the blood flowing you also increase your body’s electrical charge, meaning, you literally have more energy. When scientists talk about the nervous system sending ‘signals’ to the brain, or when they talk about “synapses firing,” they are referring to the flow of electricity in the body. Once squats become easy nothing else will give you the same energy boost.
7. Eliminate Lower Back and Knee Pain
Doing squats the wrong way can lead to permanent lower back and knee pain, but doing squats with good for can reverse and heal such injuries. For those with knee pain, check your arches and then push your knees outward while you squat.
Related: Running Without Knee Pain
8. Reduce Cellulite
Cellulite is deposits of fat under the skin. Squats can help reduce the appearance of cellulite and help tighten and tone the skin. Some “spot-reduction” can be achieved with squats, but diet is going to play a bigger factor in cellulite reduction.
9. Decrease Risk of Injuries
Who do you think is more likely to be injured by bending over to pick up something? The person who can do 100 squats or the person who can do 5? The increased mobility and strength that comes from squats are realized within just a few days of starting them. Stairs become easier, bending over to pick things up feel like less of a strain, life becomes less of a strain.
10. Build Core Strength
Squats use almost all of our muscles, and it hits the core hard. You use your abs, lower back, and obliques when doing squats, which also work the internal organs and glands as mentioned above. A weak core is a very weak link in the chain that makes up our musculature system. The strongest legs in the world will not squat much without an awesome core to carry and stabilize the weight.
11. Lift and Tighten the Butt
The bigger the gluteus maximus the higher, firmer, rounder, and sexier the butt is.
12. Fix Posture
If you find yourself slumping, slouching, or generally just looking like your fighting gravity just to stand, a few weeks of daily squats can fix that.
13. Improve Confidence, Mood
Improved posture generally improves one’s mood. It’s like forcing a smile when you’re unhappy. Standing tall, fully upright with ease, of a sign of confidence; people with better posture have a leg up in the confidence game.
14. Improve Libido
With the glandular activity, energy boost, more confidence, and an increase in testosterone, it’s pretty easy to see what squats can do for you in the bedroom.
How To Squat
The goal is to be able to feel relaxed and comfortable in this position:
The image is from an excellent article called Interesting Facts About the Natural Squatting Position.
There are bodyweight squats and there are weighted squats, and there are countless various methods for both. For this article, we’ll stick to bodyweight squats. There are many schools of thought on how best to do squats, but I highly recommend you mix them up. Here are a few to try:
This is like a power squat without the weight if you are familiar with barbell lifting. Stand with your feet slightly beyond shoulder-width apart with your toes forward and your knees pushed outward. Keep your hands on your head or otherwise unable to assist. Squat down to parallel or a little below with a tight core, flex the core hard on the way up keeping the lower back stable and stiff.
Narrow, Close Stance, Legs Together Squats
When you put together the legs you work the leg muscles differently. Where before you will feel a lot of abductor work and cor activation, with these squats you’ll find more quadricep use and a need for increased flexibility. I prefer to take these squats all the way down, and I will bend at the ankles at the very bottom, but attempt to do this less and less as the ankle joints loosen. You will want to flex the core hard on the initial phase of the come-up. I prefer to let my arms swing a bit on this exercise.
Chinese Wall Squats
For those who are graduating to more difficult squats, but still want to stick to bodyweight exercises, there are lunges, there are pistol squats, and then there’s my favorite, Chinese Wall Squats! These are much harder than they look, but if you can do them then you have very strong legs and a strong core and excellent mobility.
I have certainly been so sick before that squat recommendations would have been laughable. For people who can’t do squats yet, I recommend getups! They’re easy. Just lay down on the floor, and then get up. The trick is to notice how you stabilize yourself, and to alternate each time. For instance, if you get down on your right knee, and push with your right hand on your leg, and get up with your left leg first, you need to alternate all of these leverage points with your body so you don’t get too strong on one side which can throw the body out of alignment and actually reduce mobility.
It’s important to note that on a severely toxic body physically demanding squats can lead to more damage. Even with perfect form, if the body is in an extremely inflammatory state, doing squats with knee or back pain can cause more inflammation of an injury and the entire body. If you’re someone who is dealing with chronic pain, take it slow, watch the video below and work towards that, start with just a few, build up slowly, and read the first few articles below the video in the “Must Read” section!
If you’ve ever watched a toddler play, they squat easily and often,” Dr. Jasmine Marcus, a physical therapist with McCune and Murphy Physical Therapy in Ithaca, New York, told MNN. “As we age, we stop performing this motion and tend to lose hip, knee and ankle range of motion.” – MNN
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