What actions are involved in everyday living?
- Getting in and out of bed
- Getting on and off the toilet
- Getting in and out of a chair
- Climbing a ladder or step stool
- Getting in and out of a car
- Walking up and down stairs
- Walking on an uneven surface
Everyday life provides a variety of activities and challenges that all have one thing in common. Improving this one thing can not only make life easier, it can help you get stronger and healthier. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Many shy away from squatting, especially inactive people or those that don’t exercise. This is unfortunate because squatting is involved in everyday life; you’re already doing it. And you can make it better.
Strengthen Your Squat
The squat, regardless of the variation, is a multi-joint exercise. It requires recruitment of the ankles, calves, knees, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, hip flexors, glutes, core muscles (abs, lower back), spine, and upper back muscles.
It uses the largest, most powerful muscles of the body. This requires a lot of energy in the form of calories which can increase metabolism and contribute to weight loss. It promotes insulin sensitivity and creates an anabolic environment in the body. Everything needed for muscle growth and an increase in lean body mass.
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Squatting For Health
Being strong encourages one to be active. Weak muscles encourage one to be sedentary. But, in addition to building muscle and strength, squatting builds flexibility and encourages proper human movement. This preserves mobility for later in life. Squatting with proper range of motion and technique is actually rehabilitative for the hips and knees, and can even help relieve back pain.
Proper Squat Technique
The key to proper technique is squatting low enough that the hips descend below the knees, breaking parallel with the thighs. This unloads the knee joint and places the load on the hips, which are much stronger than the knees and designed for this purpose.
A beginner will lack flexibility to squat this low, and that’s ok. Squat to a chair, stack of books, or anything that gives you a stop point below parallel. This will also help you keep your balance. Training in this manner will teach your mind/muscle connection and improve flexibility. In time, the stop point will no longer be needed. If further assistance is needed, hold onto a counter for extra stability.
Set up for the squat is also important. Feet should be slightly wider than hip/shoulder width. The feet should be pointed as close to the front of the body as possible. Hip flexibility will most likely prevent this, and pointing the toes out a little is fine.
The hips and butt initiate the downward movement as if sitting in a chair. Keep the head and chest up. On the up movement, it is important to push the knees out, keeping them above the feet and ankles at all times.
Once the stop point is obsolete, do not use it anymore. Continue working your technique without the stop point. When your technique and flexibility are perfected, it may be time to add weight to your squat.
There are many ways to add weight to your squat when you are ready for it. Barbell, dumbbell(s), holding an object close in front of you, or even over your head. Start very light and slowly work your way up.
Beginning a Squat Program
Your daily activities require squatting, so it is time to train and strengthen your squat. Begin a daily habit of doing just ten squats a day. After one week, increase to fifteen squats everyday. Continue building from there. As you train, feel your muscles working and feel your joints through their full range of motion. Stretch when you are finished, and think about how good it feels to work those muscles and joints.
You may not realize it, but even if you don’t exercise, you are already squatting everyday. Training and strengthening your squat will make your everyday activities easier. You will be stronger, healthier, and your future self will thank you when you continue to be active later in life.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and is not intended for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical concern or issue, please consult your physician. Any exercise requires risk, and reader assumes any and all risks involved with the exercises shown.