What Do Squats Do

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What Do Squats Do
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Many readers are interested in the following topic: What are the benefits of performing squats. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.

Once you’re comfortable progressing to weighted squats, you have a chance to bring your upper body to the party and support strong bones.

What Really Happens to Your Body When You Squat Every Day

photo of woman doing squat exercise on blue background

The body-weight squat is an essential lower-body strength move, but you won’t meet you goals without proper rest and recovery.

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

What Really Happens to Your Body When examines the head-to-toe effects of common behaviors, actions and habits in your everyday life.

You might not realize it, but a squat is something you already do every single day. When you sit down and get up from a seated position, you are essentially doing a squat, explains Heather Fletcher, an exercise physiologist based in Tampa, Florida.

But squats aren’t just great for performing basic everyday functions. The strength of your squat is also a reflection of your overall level of fitness.

“Your legs contain some of the largest muscles in the body. [Doing squats] will help you build strength and improve muscle mass. You will recruit a high amount of energy and burn fat, and this will help you become stronger in your activities of daily life,” Fletcher says.

But does it help or hurt to do squats daily? Here’s what to expect if you take that route.

Your Total-Body Strength

Squats are a compound movement, meaning they tap into multiple muscle groups across multiple joints.

In fact, Judine Saint Gerard, a certified personal trainer and fitness coach based in New York City, says they work the entire body. And doing them consistently — with correct form, of course, but more on that later — can help build everything from strength and power to balance and flexibility, she says.

The lower body bears the brunt of the motion, specifically your quads, which run along the front of the thigh, and all three muscles of your butt: the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus.

But other muscles in your legs — namely your hamstrings and hip flexors — are activated, explains Saint Gerard. And let’s not forget about the stabilizing efforts of your core, which keeps your torso upright during the movement and reduces stress on the lower back.

While squats work different muscle groups at once, doing them every day doesn’t necessarily mean that your upper body and core are getting the same TLC as your quads and glutes. So it’s important to do workouts that focus on other muscles throughout the week.

Moreover, squats are “push” exercises because they involve the motion of pushing through your legs. Balancing them out with other lower-body ​and​ upper-body “pull” exercises, like deadlifts, rows, chest flyes and biceps curls, ensures that you’re not neglecting other muscles.

Your Mobility

As basic as the squat seems, this compound exercise comes with some challenges. For example, it takes a bit of mobility to perform a perfect squat. Things like tight ankles, stiff knees and locked-up hips (thanks to sitting) can limit your range of motion and make it difficult to really sink your butt back and down in a squat.

According to a March 2015 study in the ​Journal of Human Kinetics​, limited range of motion in the hips, knees and ankles can affect your squat depth. By improving mobility and strength in the ankle and hip joints, you can improve your squat depth and prevent injuries related to squatting.

Not sure if mobility is the issue? Some tell-tale signs are leaning your torso forward, rounding your spine and/or lifting your toes off the ground while squatting. These breaks in form not only put you at risk for injury, but they also force your muscles to compensate in ways that make the exercise less effective.

But doing squats daily doesn’t automatically make you better at them overnight. Taking a break from squatting every day to do ankle and mobility work (think: ankle circles and hip stretches) will ultimately help you get more out of this lower body-focused move.

Your Progress

When you do the same squats every day, your muscles adapt to the movement. So while you may be able to maintain your gains, you won’t continue to progress, Tim Brown, certified personal trainer and owner of The Fitness Factory Studio of Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

You’ll know it’s time to take your squats to new lows when they start becoming relatively easy to perform and you recover faster, Saint Gerard says.

“For example, I live in a walk-up, and when I first moved here, walking up these stairs had me out of breath,” she says. “Within a month, I didn’t have to think twice about climbing the stairs. Squats are similar; once they start feeling like you’re on autopilot, it’s time for a change.”

To prevent hitting a plateau, it’s important to practice progressive overload, which means you increase the volume, load and tempo/pace of your squats to make them more challenging. If you can complete 8 squats with proper form, try bumping it up to 12 reps, for example.

While body-weight squats are great for every fitness level, adding different types of squats to your workout routine provides other benefits, Brown says. “It is essential to use the different squat variations to see changes and target different areas of the leg muscles,” Fletcher adds.

For example, a squat jump is a plyometric move that will spike your heart rate, adding an element of cardio to your squat routine. A squat pulse forces you to hold the bottom of your squat for a longer period of time, increasing the time your muscles are under tension.

If you’re banging out 12 reps of the same squats like it’s no big deal after three or four weeks of training, consider adding more weight and reps. Choose a new weight you can squat for 5 to 8 reps with proper form.

You can also make things more challenging by testing your unilateral (or single-leg) strength. Try doing weighted split squats to ensure one leg isn’t stronger than the other. On that plyo train? Add a hop to your split squats.

Your Bones

Once you’re comfortable progressing to weighted squats, you have a chance to bring your upper body to the party and support strong bones.

According to Wolff’s law, bones adapt to the stress put on them; increasing muscle tension with weighted squats (and other exercises) stimulates bone tissue to grow — and grow stronger. By adding some weight-bearing exercises to your routine — like barbell or dumbbell squats or goblet squats — you ultimately make your bones stronger. (Keep in mind that bone strength starts to decline as early as age 40, according to Harvard Health Publishing.)

Just beware that too much of a good thing can be bad if you’re not careful. Inadequate recovery between your squat workouts, especially weighted ones, can lead to muscle fatigue instead of growth. Plus, exercising with sore muscles can make your workouts less effective.

How to Do a Proper Squat

Mastering your body-weight squat form is essential before you start trying out other variations, Brown says. And everyone’s ideal squat form looks different.

“Someone with a very long femur bone — the bone that connects your hip to your knee (thigh bone) — like Lebron James may have a harder time getting into a deep squat than a shorter person like Simone Biles, who is anthropometrically gifted, for example,” says Percell Dugger, a certified strength and conditioning coach and founder of GOODWRK.

In general, follow these pointers.

What are the benefits of performing squats?

Squatting is a popular exercise that targets the muscles in the legs, lower back, and core. It can help people strengthen their muscles and burn fat. However, performing a squat without learning the proper form can cause injury.

A wide range of cardiovascular and strength exercises can help people improve their overall health and fitness. Each type of exercise targets specific muscle groups to strengthen them and improve flexibility or prevent injury.

This article discusses the benefits and risks of squatting and explains how to perform several variations of this exercise.

a person jumping up steps

People can perform squats in various ways, each of which has different benefits. However, a traditional squat involves the following steps:

  • Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and the toes pointing slightly outward. The arms should be straight out in front.
  • Bend the knees to push the hips backward, keeping the back straight and the torso upright. The movement is similar to sitting back in a chair.
  • Once the knees reach a 90-degree angle or lower, push back up through the feet to straighten the legs.

Some tips to ensure proper form include:

  • keeping the knees in line with the feet
  • keeping the weight on the balls of the feet to avoid tilting forward
  • keeping the heels on the floor throughout the movement
  • straightening the back and keeping the torso upright during the squat

Experts regard the squat as one of the most effective exercises for enhancing athletic performance. It is relatively easy for most people to perform because it does not require any equipment.

The specific benefits to the body include:

  • strengthening the muscles in the legs, including the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings
  • strengthening the knee joint
  • burning fat and promoting weight loss
  • strengthening the lower back
  • improving flexibility in the lower body

People who squat without proper form may experience knee pain. They can help prevent this by ensuring that the knees stay in line with the feet during the squat.

Squatting with weights can increase the risk of injury, including damage to the knees or lower back, when a person does not perform the exercise correctly. Anyone performing weighted squats for the first time should consider seeking the guidance of a trainer.

Alongside the traditional squat, people can incorporate different squat variations into their exercise regimen. These variations include:

Wall squats

A wall squat is similar to a regular squat, but a person performs it against a wall.

People can follow these steps:

  • Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart in front of a wall.
  • Squat down, keeping the back against the wall.
  • Once the thighs are parallel to the ground, hold the position for several seconds.

Wall squats are a good option for people looking to build muscle endurance in their legs. Leaning against the wall can also take some pressure off the knees, so this variation may suit those new to squats or prone to knee pain.

Box squats

Box squats target the muscles in the backs of the legs, including the glutes and hamstrings. A person needs a box or bench to perform this squat variation.

The box can act as a guide on how low to squat. This variation involves these steps:

  • Stand in front of a box or bench, facing away from it.
  • Squat down until the knees are at a 90-degree angle to sit on the box or bench.
  • Push back up slowly, keeping the heels on the floor.

Squat jumps

Squat jumps require a person to perform a normal squat until the knees are at a 90-degree angle. At the bottom of the squat, they push up to jump out of the squat with force. They should aim to land with the feet shoulder-width apart so that they can start another squat jump immediately.

Squat jumps can have more cardiovascular benefits than a regular squat due to the explosive nature of jumping.

Goblet squats

A goblet squat involves performing a normal squat while holding a weight in front of the chest. The weight could be a kettlebell, dumbbell, or medicine ball. Alternatively, if a person does not own any exercise equipment, they can use a household item, such as a full water bottle or a thick book.

Goblet squats target the core and leg muscles, with the added weight helping improve strength.

Lateral squats

Lateral squats target the gluteus medius and hip abductors, and they are a great option for people looking to improve their dynamic balance, flexibility, and agility.

People can perform lateral squats by following these steps:

  • Start with the feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with the toes pointing forward.
  • Bend the right knee and shift the body weight into the right leg while pushing the hips backward. The left leg should stay straight, with the torso remaining upright. Holding the arms out in front can help with balance.
  • Press through the right heel to bring the body back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise on the other side.

It is important that the bent knee track directly over the toes, so a person may need to adjust the distance between their feet.

Pistol squats

The pistol squat is an advanced exercise that requires strong legs. It exercises each leg separately and targets several muscles.

It involves these steps:

  • Start in a normal squatting position and extend the left leg out in front, keeping it straight with the heel just above the floor.
  • Raise the arms out in front and bend the right leg, pushing the hips back into a squat.
  • Squat down as low as possible, aiming to rest the right hamstring on the right calf.
  • Drive back upward by pushing through the right leg.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Pistol squats offer several benefits. They work each leg individually, engage the core more intensely than a normal squat, and improve flexibility and balance.