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In past issues, I've talked about the squat in glowing terms. This exercise provides tremendous benefits, if you do it correctly. Note that I do not recommend back squats. But other variations will help you burn fat and pack on muscle better than any other exercise.
As I have said many times, you can take two dudes who want bigger arms. Have one of them do nothing but biceps curls for three months. Have the other do nothing but squats for three months.
At the end of the three months, the one who did the squats will show the greatest gain in arm size. He will also be leaner than the other dude, assuming their diets are both good.
It amazes me how many gym rats don't get this, despite the overwhelming evidence. The guys and gals with the best looking bodies always do squats or deadlifts.
Eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney said in a 2013 interview, "You've got to do your squats."
Please note that machine exercises such as leg presses cannot substitute for squats. They are isolation exercises, while squats work nearly everything.
The squat stimulates the strongest possible adaptive response, including a huge, long-lasting (several days) spike in testosterone. This hormone is what tells your body to store calcium in your bones, burn body fat, and build muscle. Those are three very important goals for anyone concerned about health, fitness, or bodybuilding.
In fact, you will burn more fat from squatting than from running. It's all because of the adaptive response. And running does not give you that big testosterone boost, but it does give you the opposite--a big cortisol boost. An exception is sprinting (done in, for example, interval training), which really has more in common with weight training than with treadmill running or jogging.
Deep vs. shallow
Good form is essential. A primary characteristic is you keep your knee from going over your toe. That prevents injury. Some people believe that not going deep also prevents injury. The reality is the opposite. Shallow squatting is akin to climbing stairs. Decent exercise, but only in a limited range of motion.
The concept of "range of motion" is fundamental to injury prevention. In the case of squats, going deep recruits the hamstrings, thus building a balanced leg. Muscle imbalance is a common cause of injury. You need to keep those knees back, but also squat deeply.
Olympic squatters nearly touch their butts to the floor. That's how deep they go. The idea that squatting until your thigh is almost parallel to the floor is good enough has no basis in physiology. It sacrifices much of the benefit the squat should be providing.
One reason people squat only partially is they are using too much weight and have to cheat to complete the exercise. In many cases, they are playing the mindless game of counting plates, then counting reps and sets. They also go fast, which is another cheating method. Their time under tension (for the muscles) is so minimal, it almost doesn't count.
Check your ego at the door. If you cannot squat all the way down, stop.
Try the following exercise, but don't use any weights. Support yourself with one hand on a door frame or squat rack support or similar sturdy item. Then slowly squat down, checking your form the whole way. What do I mean by slowly? Try for 15 seconds. If you can't do it, try 10 seconds. Hold for 2 seconds at the bottom, while taking a breath, then exhale on the way up.
Rest 30 seconds, then repeat.
Don't count reps or sets. When you can't do it right (and slowly), just stop.
Once you develop enough strength to do this in good form (maybe after a few weeks), then you can move to the next level. The change is very simple. You consciously flex everything during the exercise, especially your abs as you breathe out coming up.
Now you can count reps and sets. Keep a low number of reps per set; 5 is probably about the max. This keeps you from pacing yourself.
You're getting closer to doing good squats. The next step is to explode out of the bottom position. You should be able to feel individual muscle fibers coming into play.
This explosion part is a "finishing" move. Do it on the last two reps of each set. Remember, you are doing it from a very deep position. When it comes to squats, always go deep because that's what maximizes the adaptive response. In other words, going deep builds muscle.
You might wonder how a 250lb NFL player can leap 3 and a half feet straight up. The answer is that he trains with deep squats. No professional football coach is going to give the OK to shallow squats. Deep squats build power. And if you do that explosion finishing move, you will find your own vertical leap to be quite impressive.
For any sport--running, climbing, cycling, martial arts, and on and on--the stronger posterior and anterior chains you get from proper squatting give you a huge edge. And of course, a leaner, more muscular physique means you look better while doing that sport.
So when can you use weights, and how much can you use? If doing front squats, start off with just the bar. Repeat the whole sequence of form learning, etc., outlined above. Combine front squats with sissy squats, and you get an extremely good squats workout (maybe 5 sets of 5 for each).
If you're doing squats correctly, you are stimulating the maximum adaptive response. Give this time to do its thing. That means you aren't going to be doing squats every week. Every two weeks maybe, if you are in peak condition and not doing other work that loads your legs.
Many professional athletes do one squats session per month. It's a killer session, but so should yours be. If you aren't satisfied with a once a month frequency, do a mid-month session also but cut in half the number of sets. What you don't want to cut is the intensity of the exercise.
www.supplecity.com, you'll find plenty of informative, authoritative
articles on maintaining a lean, strong physique. It has nothing to
do with long workouts or impossible to maintain diets. In fact:|
The banana cannot reproduce itself. It can be propagated only by the hand of man. I was going to make a comment about members of CONgress, but you were probably thinking the same thing already....
The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
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Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.
Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).
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