Squats, Squats, Squats: Everything You Need to Know & Why They Are So Important

 

Say what you want, but there are few, if any, exercises that are better for your body than squats.

Sure, they target the lower body, but they require that a multitude of muscles work together to complete the movement, making squats a compound exercise. Plus, when it comes to the lower body, you really can’t argue with the benefits of making squats a regular part of your workout routine.

That’s why I decided to make today’s blog post all about squats. I’ll start with a few of the best benefits of the exercise & then give a brief explanation of how to do them the right way (to maximize their effectiveness & reduce the risk of injury).

Why Squats Are Important

 

If squats are not a part of your regular workout, then you need to make them a part of your regular workout. They simply have just so many benefits.

Here are a few reasons that squats are such a fantastic exercise:

  • Full Body Exercise: Squats are great because they help build muscle in your entire body. Naturally, they build up your legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, etc), but they also release testosterone & human growth hormone to improve muscle growth & muscle mass throughout your entire body. So, at the end of the day, they help promote lower & upper muscle growth.
  • Functional: Squats are one of the best functional exercises. These help make real-life activities easier instead of simply making you better at operating gym equipment.
  • Burn Fat: If you have done squats before, then you know that they are intense. In fact, they are one of the most time-effective ways to burn more calories & fat!
  • Mobility & Balance: Squatting is about more than just gaining muscle. The exercise also focuses on building/maintaining mobility & balance. In addition to increasing balance in your legs, they promote core strength & improve coordination between your brain & different muscle groups.

Proper Form for Squats

 

Using the proper form is essential when performing squats. If not done correctly, they can place undue stress on certain parts of your body (such as your knees). I’ve given you a few tips below that will help you perform squats right. However, there is no substitute to getting tips & advice from a Personal Trainer in person.

My best tips for the proper squat include:

  • Warm up before you start.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Keep your back in a neutral position.
  • Keep your knees centered over your feet.
  • Bend your knees, hips, & ankles slowly until you reach a 90-degree angle.
  • Slowly return to your starting position.
  • Repeat.
  • Breathe in as you lower your body & out as you return to your starting position.

Start Doing Squats!

Now that you know the benefits of doing squats & how to do them what is stopping you from adding them to your workout routine? Nothing should be!

Motivation: The Key to Your Fitness Success!

Want to know what the single most important component of your fitness success is?

It’s Motivation!!!

When you are motivated to train, you actually train. When you are motivated to eat well, you eat well. When you are motivated to go to the gym, you go to the gym.

It sounds simple. But you all know it isn’t…

Everyone becomes unmotivated at some point, some of us more frequently than others. It can be hard to push yourself up & out of bed to the gym when you are tired & sore or to force yourself to do a workout routine after a difficult day at work, but if fitness success is one of your goals, you need to.

A common saying goes “75 percent of success is just showing up”. The saying is  100% TRUE.

If you can force yourself to show up for the task, then you will do it. Of course it can be hard to do but it needs to be done. Motivation helps with this.

The quick tips below are a few of the best ways that I stay motivated to train & eat right on a daily basis. Use these tips yourself & you will find that staying motivated to sweat & work your muscles is a little bit easier.

1) Find a Partner

Find a Partner

Perhaps the best way that I know of to stay motivated to train is by working out with a partner. Having a date & time set to train with a friend will force you to show up. You will feel obligated to exercise. Plus, you’ll likely have a more enjoyable time training with a friend than by yourself. Just remember to cut out the talking :) after all, we are here to train!

2) Switch It Up

Switch It Up

Even though I love training at the gym (I’m a Personal Trainer!!!), I can’t help but admit it does get old sometimes. This is why it is so important to switch up your fitness routine every now & again. In addition to doing different exercises each day & each week, you should force yourself to do non-gym exercises at least once every two or three weeks. Ice skating, rock climbing, skiing, bicycling, basically anything that works as long as it keeps your body moving & gives you some much needed change.

3) Reward Yourself

Reward Yourself

It simply cannot be denied that for many people, training isn’t the most fun thing in the world. Even if you do like to work out, it can become hard to stay motivated after a while. Another effective motivation tip is to reward yourself after each workout. Now, I don’t mean to go out & eat a bucket of ice cream but a healthy post-workout snack like a nutritional smoothie or even a bite of your favorite chocolate (only a bite or two though!) can help make you feel like you really accomplished something.

***

There really are any number of ways that you can stay motivated to train & eat right. The three discussed above are a few of my very favourite. I’d also recommend working with a Personal Trainer & finding your ideal workout time.

A trainer is much like a friend. Having a schedule with them will make you feel obligated to exercise. Finding your ideal workout time means figuring out when it is easiest for you to get things done (morning versus evening).

Fitness Fact Fridays – 19th September 2014

Friday Fact:

‘The biggest nutrition mistake people make is eating too much too infrequently.’

The biggest nutrition mistake people make is eating too much too infrequently. You are far better off eating several smaller meals over the course of the day. This will keep you more full (preventing you from snacking later) & allow your body to burn off the calories more efficiently. It will also give you more sustained energy throughout the day. So rather than gorging yourself two or three times a day, attempt to eat six small meals or three normal meals with three snacks. Also: make sure they are healthy!

Fitness Fact Fridays

Friday Fact:

‘Your body continues to gain strength as you age.’

 

A lot of people question whether they should continue strength training as they grow older. But new studies show that both men & women can continue to gain strength well into their sixties (& beyond). The key is using exercises that promote recovery & don’t place to much strain on your muscles. So, what this means, is that no matter your age, you should be exercising if possible!

Fitness Fact Fridays – 15th August 2014

Friday Fact:

‘TRX Suspension Training is a full-body workout with only your bodyweight.’

It seems like we are constantly trying to come up with great new methods of getting into shape. However, we already have several time-tested methods right at our fingertips. Among these is TRX Suspension Training. TRX Suspension Training is basically bodyweight exercises while a part of your body is suspended. They are excellent full-body exercises that work all of your muscles while increasing stability, coordination, endurance, & agility at the same time. Try them out today for a killer workout that is sure to have you begging for more.

Fitness Fact Fridays – 22nd August 2014

Fact Friday:

‘Swimming doesn’t activate the afterburn effect, although it can still be a great workout.’

The Afterburn Effect is the process of throwing your body off of its natural rhythm with intense exercise, forcing it to work harder after the exercise is complete to get back to normal. In essence, this causes it to burn more calories even after the exercise is complete. Though there are a lot of great forms of exercise for activating the Afterburn Effect, swimming is not necessarily one of them. Because the Afterburn Effect has a lot to do with body temperature (raising it), swimming isn’t very efficient because your body temperature is regulated through the water. The other setback of swimming to burn calories is that it is harder to do sprints & really get your body working hard in the water. However, it is important to note that swimming is great exercise, it can help you lose some weight & build toned muscles. Its just not the best exercise for those that are looking to burn the most calories & fat possible.

Fitness Fact Fridays – 29th August 2014

Fact Friday:

‘Perfect posture is essential to an effective deadlift.’

When it comes to the deadlift, perfect posture & technique are essential. They will help keep you safe from injury & boost the effectiveness of your workout. If you are unsure of how to perform the deadlift properly, have a Personal Trainer or Fitness Coach show you how. You won’t be sorry to learn the right one to do this killer exercise. It is one of the best ways to build strength. Period.

Aging & Exercise: How the Body Builds Strength When You Grow Older

Regular exercise becomes even more important as you grow older. Yet many people replace strength training & working out in the gym with other kinds of exercise. A lot of us question whether there is actually a point of working out beyond a certain age.

Recently, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research did a study that compared the results of younger & older people that completed the same exercise program after a number of weeks. This study as well as a little more information on aging & exercise is discussed in greater detail below.

How the Study Was Set Up

 

This particular study lasted for ten weeks. Twenty-six seniors participated with an average age of about 65 years old. Twenty-three younger people participated with an average age of about 29 years old.

The workout plans they were instructed to do were fairly simple. They consisted of two to four sets of eight to fourteen reps. Various exercises were used. The amount of resistance varied throughout the course of the ten weeks. Exercises that were used included leg press, bench press, & a variety of isolation exercises.

Fitness levels of each participant were tested before the study to compare with the fitness levels after the ten week study.

Results from the Study

 

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study on aging & exercise was interesting. We’ve broken down the results of the study below:

Strength: The workout program increased the strength in both younger & older participants. Most exercises resulted in roughly equal gain between the two groups.

Muscle Mass: Leg mass increased in both groups. However, only the younger men had a significant increase in muscle mass in their legs. The older group only had growth in leg mass with muscle mass remaining nearly the same.

Muscle Activation: While flexing hard against resistance, the older group of men achieved a greater increase in EMG activity than younger men. Basically, the older men received more muscle activation during most exercises than the younger men.

Simply put, the study shows that working out into your sixties (& possibly beyond) has its benefits. There is no reason to stop strength training at this mark. You still have the potential to improve your strength.

A few great blog posts on our website to check out on our website related to strength training include:

 

Final Thoughts

What is stopping you from exercising when you get older? If you’re above the age of sixty, we’d love to hear from you about your current fitness routine!

Motive Mondays – 1st December 2013

Weekly Quote:

‘Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you’re an honest person is like expecting the bull not to charge because you’re a vegetarian.’

bull

Life’s not fair sometimes. That’s the plain & simple of it. You will go nowhere in this world if you don’t take your own life into your own hands & make your own opportunities in the process. Success doesn’t happen to those that sit around waiting for others to do the work for them or for luck to come their way. The only way success happens, in any area of life, is through plain old hard work. Even the best among us need to constantly push ourselves to work harder & be the best we can be. The world won’t treat you fairly just because you’re a good person so work as hard as possible, be as good of a person as possible, & always do your best.

Fitness Fact Fridays – 6th December 2013

FitnessPlus Fact:

 

‘Sleep is just as important as diet & exercise.’

Though we have talked about sleep before , we spend much more of our time discussing diet & exercise. But sleep is just as important as diet & exercise to your fitness success. The proper amount of sleep each night (between 7 & 9 hours for most adults, although some need as little as 6 hours & some need as many as 10) is essential to the proper function of both your mind & your body. Sleeping the right amount will keep you alert at work & throughout the day, increase your productivity, improve the effectiveness of your training, &, most importantly, make you a healthier person overall. Sleeping enough is one of the most essential things that you can do to keep your body healthy.

How  much sleep do you get each night? Is it enough for you? What could you do to get more?